Mussels with Pancetta Fennel Herbs and Citrus

Emily Falke – 2020 Recipe Contest Winner

Serves 2


2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, cored, sliced thin
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3/4 C St. Supéry Napa Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc
2 lbs fresh mussels, scrubbed, beards re­moved
1 1/2 C fish stock or clam juice
1/2 C heavy cream
2 Tbl lemon juice
1 Tbl orange juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Aleppo pepper, divided
1/2 C fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
2 Tbl grated lemon zest, divided
2 Tbl grated orange zest, divided
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
Sourdough bread optional


In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat, sauté pancetta in olive oil and cook until crisp. Add shallots, fennel and garlic and cook until just soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine and sim­mer over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half. Add the mussels and clam juice and bring to simmer.  Cover and cook 4 minutes until mussels open.

Stir in cream, lemon juice, orange juice, salt and Aleppo pepper. Divide into 2 bowls and top with basil, lemon zest, orange zest and thyme leaves. Serve with crusty sourdough if desired. It’s great for soaking up the sauce! St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect addition to this creamy, spicy, citrusy, herby sauce and a chilled glass of wine pairs beautifully with the dish.

Why this dish is sustainable

I chose locally harvested Santa Barbara Mussels for my recipe. For the only local open-ocean fish farmer in California, Bernard Friedman, mussels have been his biggest crop since 2010. Rather than over-fishing, he harvests the precise quantity for customers to eat the same night they are purchased fresh. What he does is unparalleled in most farming industries, as he harvests to order by restaurants and seafood markets. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, a trusted seafood sustainability organization I follow, reports mussel farming has been shown to increase water quality at the farm site through removal of excess nutrients and phytoplankton. Farmed mussels are “best choice” according to the report and are considered the rare seafood that is nearly “guilt free”.

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