Include a bowl on the serving tray for shells and used toothpicks or forks.
- 5 pounds mussels
- 3 sprigs fresh tarragon
- 5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more chopped for garnish
- 1 750-ml bottle dry white wine
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 20 whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 large red bell pepper
- Rémoulade Sauce Remoulade Sauce
Discard any mussels with broken shells. To clean mussels, soak them in cold water for 15 minutes, and scrub shells with a stiff brush. Using your thumb and forefinger, grasp the dark, weedy growth (the beard) protruding from between the mussel shells, and tug it from the mussel. Rinse well, and refrigerate until needed.
Make a bouquet garni: Tie tarragon and parsley sprigs in a small piece of cheesecloth, and set aside. Combine wine, water, lemon juice, shallots, peppercorns, salt, and bouquet garni in a large stockpot with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Add mussels, and cover. Increase heat to medium, and cook, shaking occasionally, until the mussels open, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove mussels from broth, and cool both separately. Discard any shells that haven't opened, as well as the half shell to which mussel isn't attached. When cool, put mussels back into broth, cover, and chill until ready to serve. This can be done 1 to 2 days before serving.
Place red pepper directly over the trivet of a gas-stove burner on high heat or on a grill. Just as each section turns puffy and black, turn the pepper with tongs to prevent overcooking. (If you don't have a gas stove, place the pepper on a baking pan, and broil in the oven, turning as each side becomes charred.) Place pepper in a paper bag to cool. Peel and seed pepper; cut in 1/2-inch-wide strips, then into diamonds.
Cut mussels from shells with a paring knife. Pour a little remoulade sauce in each shell, and garnish with chopped parsley and a red-pepper diamond. Pass on a tray with toothpicks or wooden forks.