Every time I visit Boston, the one restaurant I must visit is Mother Anna’s in the North End. For twelve bucks, you can be served the most mouthwatering, scrumptious bowl of saucy steamed mussels fit for a king, and alongside it a hunk of freshly baked Italian bread. Swoooon…. It’s this dish that has remained my absolute favorite decadence on a cold winter day in New England, and I’ve finally learned to recreate it in my own home!
Steaming in a big pot with sautéed garlic, onions, my favorite white wine and a homemade tomato sauce, the aroma of these mussels was just heavenly. Plus, after steaming in the pot for just under 10 minutes, they were ready in a snap!
The same as I’ve always done at Mother Anna’s, I devoured these delicious mussels and scooped up the fragrant, hearty tomato sauce with a hunk of soft Italian bread. It was such a tasty meal that I know you’d enjoy, too, and such a comfort to know that I could replicate one of my favorite Boston dishes in my own kitchen.
Yield: Serves 2-3
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups tomato sauce (recipe below)
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (28- to 32-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar (optional), or to taste
Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil in a large, heavy pot (I used a 5.5 quart Le Creuset) over moderately low heat, stirring, until garlic is pale golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and boil over high heat 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and mussels and cook over moderately high heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until mussels just open wide, 6 to 8 minutes. (Discard any mussels that are unopened after 8 minutes.) Serve immediately.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Cook onions and garlic in oil in a 2- to 4-quart heavy ovenproof saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, including juice, and salt, then cover and put in the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring and mashing tomatoes with a fork occasionally, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 3 cups.
If sauce tastes too acidic, add sugar and cook 5 minutes more.