Mouclade: Mussels in Saffron-Champagne Sauce

Next time you have a little leftover good champagne, purchase fresh mussels to make mouclade, a traditional dish from the Charente region of France. You can substitute white wine for the champagne. 




Occasional Fresco

Recipe CourseAppetizer


  • 2 pounds mussels, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup good-quality champagne or white wine
  • Fish or vegetable broth, as needed
  • 8 threads saffron, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh chives, minced, for garnish


  1. Place the mussels and champagne or wine in a large Dutch oven or heavy pan over medium-high heat, cover, and cook until the mussels open, about 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Transfer mussels to a large bowl, remove the meat, and reserve the half-shells. Set aside. 

  2. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup. Add enough broth to make 2 cups. Place the broth into a medium saucepan, add the saffron, and keep warm.

  3. In another medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. 

  4. Slowly add the 2 cups saffron-champagne broth and minced garlic. Whisk until the sauce thickens to the consistency of custard, about 4 to 5 minutes. With the back of a spoon, press down on any lumps, or press through a sieve to ensure a smooth sauce. If it turns too thick, add more broth, a little at a time, stirring constantly. 

  5. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk and lemon juice, then remove the saffron-champagne sauce from the heat and whisk in the egg mixture. Return to the stove and heat through, but do not boil. The mixture shouldn’t cook! Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

  6. Heat the broiler. On a baking sheet or broiler pan, fill each half shell with a mussel and cover with sauce. Broil filled shells until bubbly and light brown. Transfer to shallow plates, top with chives, and serve with warm, crusty bread.


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