Cozze alla Triestina

I love this dish and I can recall eating it as a child with a hunk of grandma Rosa's bread next to the mussels. All that was left was a pile of mussel shells and a happy little Lidia. This is my favorite way to eat mussels, and it is one of the dishes that was served on opening night at Felidia – April 21, 1981. The best part is dunking crusty bread in the sauce. If there are any leftovers, remove the mussels from the shells and return them to the sauce; tomorrow you’ll have a great pasta-with-mussels dish.

(Serves 4 to 6)

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 1 large onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 fresh bay leaves, or 4 dried bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon peperoncino flakes
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 pounds mussels, soaked and scrubbed clean
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
  • Crusty bread, for serving

In a large Dutch oven, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, and cook until it is sizzling and just golden around the edges, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Push the vegetables aside and make a hot spot in the bottom of the pan. Add the peperoncino and let it toast for a minute. Pour the white wine into the pot. Bring to a boil, and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Once the wine has reduced, add the mussels and scallions. Stir, and adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering. Cover, and simmer until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Most of the mussels should have opened (discard any that have not). Sprinkle with the parsley. Stir in enough breadcrumbs to slightly thicken the bubbling sauce. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and toss well. Transfer the mussels to a serving bowl, and pour the juices over the top. Serve immediately with crusty bread.