Mussels: Moules au Champagne et au Safran

one pinch saffron threads
4 pounds mussels
1 tablespoon butter
4 small yellow onions, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry champagne, or other dry white wine, sparkling or not
freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, snipped
2 to 4 rounded teaspoons creme fraiche, or sour cream


Combine saffron in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon very hot water, and set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to sizzle, add the onions and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until translucent, softened, and sweet-smelling.

Add the saffron mixture, if using, and the mussels. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the mussels start to open, stirring them around frequently. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the mussels open wide. Avoid overcooking, or the mussel meat will be a bit chewy.

Divide the mussels and broth between shallow serving bowls, sprinkle with pepper and snipped parsley, and add a rounded teaspoonful of cr?me fra?che to each bowl. Serve immediately.
from Chocolate and Zucchini.