When mussels are prepared right they can be a great starter dish for a variety of meals. I think Carrabba’s version—which is one of the chain’s signature dishes—is the best you’ll find at any casual chain in the country, and now you can make a perfect copy with minimal effort in your own kitchen. Carrabba’s uses mussels that are grown off the coast of Prince Edward Island in Canada. They are small and sweet, so try to find these mussels for your clone, and be sure to clean the mussels well before steaming them. Make faces happy by serving some crusty bread on the side for dipping into the leftover lemon butter sauce.

26 to 32 small mussels

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons dry white wine (Chablis)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
¼ cup dry white wine (Chablis)
2 tablespoons Pernod liqueur
½ lemon
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

Crusty bread for dipping

Cooking method

1-Clean the mussels before you prepare them. Remove any beards from the mussels and let them soak in cold water for 20 minutes so that they expel any sand.

2-While the mussels soak, make the lemon butter sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook slowly for 5 minutes, but do not let the garlic brown. Add the wine, lemon juice, salt, and white pepper; raise the temperature just a little bit and cook for another 3 minutes or until simmering. Turn off the heat. When the sauce stops bubbling, whisk in the cream. Turn the heat to low and cook for about 3 minutes, whisking often, until the sauce is hot and thick. Cover and turn off the heat.

3-Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the cleaned mussels. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute.

4-Add the onion and garlic to the pan with the mussels and toss or stir well. Cover and cook for 1 minute.

5-Add the white wine and Pernod to the pan. Cover and cook for another 2 minutes or until all of the mussels have opened. Toss the mussels with the sauce a couple of times while cooking.

6-Use the lid of the pan to hold all of the mussels in while draining off the liquid in the pan. Squeeze the juice out of the lemon into the pan, then add all of the lemon butter sauce to the pan along with the basil. Toss well and pour into a serving dish. Serve with some bread on the side, if desired.

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