Storing raw mussels in the refrigerator: Do not place the mussels in a plastic bag or container, which might kill them. Instead place mussels in a metal or ceramic bowl and cover with wet paper towels, followed by a clean damp dishtowel.
To clean mussels:
Place mussels in a pot of fresh, cold water to soak briefly. Examine each mussel, throwing out any broken ones, and remove beard from mussel. Drain and reserve mussels in a bowl. Place back in refrigerator as above until ready to cook.
Make Rouille.(see Dollops and Spreads).
To prepare stock:
In a large stock pot combine the bottle of wine, garlic, ground pepper, red peppers and the water. The stock should be at least 3 inches up the side of the pot. If not, add more water. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 15 mins. on low. Turn off heat until ready to cook mussels.
To cook mussels:
Bring the stock to a low simmer. Remove lid from pot and carefully place mussels in the pot. Cover the pot and simmer over medium-high heat, just until mussels open. This should take only about 5 minutes. Don’t overcook mussels or they will disintegrate. Lift out mussels to a bowl and cover to keep warm while others cook, or eat immediately.
Place mussels in a serving dish with some of the cooking liquid and a small bowl of rouille on the side.
Recipe by Jane O'Riordan