Mussels and Clams in a White Wine and Tarragon Broth

, from Issue #32. September, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Mussels and Clams in a White Wine and Tarragon Broth

The briny juices from the clams and mussels pair beautifully with salty bacon and the fresh aniseed flavour of tarragon.

Serves: 4-6


2 kilograms mussels
1½ kilograms clams
½ cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
knob of butter
100 grams streaky bacon, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 inner stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
3 tablespoons plain flour
½ cup cream
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


Scrub the mussels and pull off the beards. Soak the clams in cold water for 10 minutes then drain. Put the wine, stock and bay leaf in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the mussels; cover and cook until the shells have opened, shaking the pan occasionally. As they open, transfer to a bowl, cover and keep warm. Repeat with the clams. Discard any shellfish that don’t open. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve lined with a piece of muslin or a thin cotton cloth and reserve.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the bacon, onion, celery, garlic, turmeric and tarragon until the onion is soft. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes then gradually stir in the reserved cooking liquid and the cream. Season with pepper and bring to the boil. The cooking liqueur should add enough salt to the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Raw, peeled prawns can be added to the broth for the final 5 minutes of cooking.

To serve: Put the mussels and clams in a large warm serving bowl and pour over the broth. Serve immediately with grilled bread or warm crusty rolls.