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Outlander Kitchen recipe: Steamed Mussels with Butter

Theresa Carle-Sanders of Outlander Kitchen gives us this wonderful recipe for steamed mussels in butter, inspired by a passage from the second book of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber

Published: March 9, 2016

Served shortly after Jamie and Claire’s arrival to Paris in the second book of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, these meaty morsels from the sea are packed in the shell with a colorful and decadent compound butter. The recipe is adapted from one I learned from my Chef Instructor in culinary school, himself a native of Paris.

Serve with a loaf of crusty bread and a sharply dressed green salad to balance the buttery richness, or with a mound of chips for an Outlandish take on the Belgian classic, moules et frites.

1 Combine the butter, shallot, garlic, tomato paste, lemon juice, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and pulse until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.

2 Alternatively, combine everything in a large bowl and mash with a fork until combined.

3 Inspect the mussels to ensure they are all closed. Discard any with broken shells, or those open ones that don’t close immediately when tapped. Use a small, stiff brush to remove barnacles and/or seaweed.

4 Arrange half of the mussels in a single layer in a large skillet, add half of the wine, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Steam until all of the mussels are open, about 3 minutes. Remove the mussels from the pan and repeat with remaining mussels and wine.

5 When cool enough to handle, discard the empty half shells and use a knife to loosen the meat from the other halves. Trim the meat of any thread-like “beards.”

6 Use a small spoon or knife to cover the meat and fill the shell with the compound butter. Arrange on a baking sheet, wrap with plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

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7 Move the rack to the top position and heat the oven broiler or grill.

8 Cook the mussels until the butter is melted and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.



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● Choose damp, shiny, fresh-smelling mussels with securely closed shells. (Mussels left undisturbed will open their shells slightly. Tap open shells firmly. If the shell closes, it is still alive. Discard those that don’t close.) Avoid specimens with broken or split shells, or those that smell off. Store them in the refrigerator layered in damp newspaper or cloth - avoid plastic containers or bags which will suffocate them. Wait to clean them until just before cooking.

● The leftover butter is delicious on toast under a poached egg, stirred into mashed potatoes, or perched atop a grilled steak.

• Find more Outlander-inspired recipes at  and pre-order Theresa's wonderful new cookery book 'Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook' from all the usual online outlets ahead of its release on June 14, 2016.

Outlander Kitchen Comp

Traditional Scottish recipe: Steak and kidney pie


  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 to 2 kg mussels (see Notes)
  • 240 ml white wine
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