David Schwartz


An out-of-the-ordinary showcase for mussels.

Mussels Casino with herb butter and garlic breadcrumbs


YIELD: 40-60 mussels


  • 130 ml (½ cup) Sauvignon Blanc or dry Riesling
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 15 g (1½ tbsp) salt
  • 25 g (2 tbsp) sugar
  • 40 ml (2½ tbsp) champagne vinegar
  • 2–3 lbs Saltspring Island or organic blue mussels, scrubbed and bearded


  • 200 g (3 cups) panko
  • 40 g (3 tbsp) canola
  • (or other neutral) oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced


  • 60 g (¼ lb) butter, room temperature
  • 1 sprig thyme, leaves only, minced
  • 3 g (1 tbsp) minced chives
  • 3 g (1 tbsp) minced parsley
  • ½ small clove garlic, grated fine
  • salt

To finish:

  • coarse salt
  • chives, minced


In a saucepan, on high heat, bring 80 ml of the wine to a boil, light it, and when the flame sputters, remove pot from heat. Add three sprigs of thyme, 1 clove of garlic, salt and sugar, and stir. Let steep for 5 minutes, add the vinegar and 250 ml (1 cup) cold water. Place in refrigerator. Combine mussels with the remaining 50 ml of wine, garlic and thyme in a saucepan on medium heat and cover. Transfer mussels to a platter as they open — after about 3 minutes. Remove mussels from their shells, submerge in the pickling liquid, cover and reserve in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours — ideally overnight. Select the best-looking half of the mussel shells for plating and discard the others. Use a teaspoon to gently scrape adductor muscles from the presentation shells, rinse them under cold water and set aside.

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F) convection.

Combine panko, oil and garlic in a bowl. Mix and spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Transfer to middle rack of oven until golden — about 7 minutes. Set aside. Combine butter, herbs, garlic and a dash of salt in a bowl; mix and set aside.

Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F) convection.

Arrange cleaned mussel half shells on a baking sheet covered with a thick layer of coarse salt. Drain pickled mussels and add one to each shell. Top each mussel with ½ tsp herb butter and then sprinkle generously with breadcrumbs. Transfer to top rack until butter is melted and breadcrumbs browned — about 2 minutes. Arrange mussels on plates layered with coarse salt. Garnish with chives.

When you think of eating mussels, the first thing that comes to mind is likely a large bowl of steaming molluscs on the shell in white wine sauce with a side of bread for dipping. In this recipe, we lightly pickle the mussels before serving them on the half shell with a rich aromatic butter and a topping of garlic-scented breadcrumbs. Out of the ordinary — but just as comforting. –D.S.

Photography: Ashley van der Laan


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