Mussels with Fennel, Italian Sausage & Pernod

By • March 18, 2013 10 Comments

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Author Notes: I love this recipe. I had it on my menu a million years ago back when I had to special order fennel pollen by mail from the one farmer in California who sold it. It has stood the test of time and is so super delicious. There's fennel in all its guises, yet it is not overwhelmingly fennel-y.

You could sub arak or ouzo for the Pernod, but I would steer clear of anisette or sambuca (too sweet).

Food52 Review: What a wonderful recipe -- rich in flavors and textures, and a great way to indulge a love of fennel! The recipe comes together easily; using a mandoline makes the prep work a breeze. I made this for company and did all the sautéing ahead of time, waiting until just the last minute to add the mussels and the finishing touches. The sauce is heavenly with just the right amount of fennel flavor and heat. The sausage tucks away and becomes a little treasure when discovered, complementing the caramelized fennel and mussels. Overall, a beautifully composed dish that is sure to delight anyone around your dinner table! SwoonMySpoon

Serves 2 to 4

  • 2 pounds freshest wild mussels
  • 1 link Italian sausage with fennel
  • 2 large bulbs fennel sliced thin, fronds reserved
  • 1 large shallot, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup Pernod
  • 1 tablespoon fennel pollen, divided
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch saffron, in 2 tablespoons warm water
  1. Rinse & debeard mussels, discarding any that will not close. Refrigerate them in a bowl with ice and/or cold water.
  2. Remove the sausage casing. In a lidded pot big enough to hold the mussels, brown sausage in 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  3. Set sausage aside, leaving the fat in the pan. Add another tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Add fennel and shallots and sauté over medium heat until the fennel softens and begins to caramelize.
  5. Remove the fennel and shallots and set aside (with sausage).
  6. Add the remaining olive oil to the pot with the garlic, red pepper flakes & saffron. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add Pernod and bring to a boil.
  8. Add rinsed mussels, cover pot, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels open.
  9. Add half & half, sausage, fennel, and half of the fennel pollen. Cook an additional 3 minutes, shaking the pot a few more times.
  10. To serve, sprinkle the mussels with the remaining fennel pollen and a handful of fennel fronds. An additional drizzle of olive is nice, too.
  11. Serve with crusty bread, lightly toasted and rubbed with garlic.

More Great Recipes: Fish & Seafood|Entrees|Fennel|Fish

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Comments (10) Questions (0)


about 1 month ago Shortrib

Great recipe! I didn't have the pollen or the saffron, but it's nonetheless our new favorite mussel dish. There's no salt mentioned, and that's just fine since the mussels give up enough on their own. Both of us ate up the broth with a spoon, which speaks loads.


7 months ago cheesecakegirl

I am in love with seafood and absolutely LOVE this recipe! Although I do not have the fennel pollen (not yet...) I was delighted! Thank you, Cheesecakegirl


8 months ago fmacmac

This is delicious - making again tonight to celebrate New Year's Eve. Don't have fennel pollen; but fine without.


about 1 year ago Mary

The broth is absolutely delicious so have plenty of crusty bread handy. But way too much fennel-1 bulb would be plenty. Definitely will make again.


about 1 year ago Julia Quagliarello



over 2 years ago meridian65

Is the pollen a make or break ingredient? This sounds heavenly but won't be able to find pollen where I live unfortunately!


over 2 years ago Sophia R

This sounds so wonderful - now that the temperatures are rising again I would love to sit somewhere on a nice balcony with a bowl of this in front of me, some good sourdough bread to mop up the juices and a cold glass of sparkling wine or rose to wash it all down!


over 2 years ago Aliwaks

I think I'll join you Sounds PERFECT!


over 2 years ago darksideofthespoon

I knew this recipe was either going to be a finalist or a CP. Congrats, I can't wait to try this!


over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

This is my kind of dish! I am going to be making it in the next couple of days. Congrats on the CP