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Dauphine’s Mussels in Absinthe

Cure Mussels in Absinthe

A simple dish with New Orleans soul.

In Cure: New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em by Neal Bodenheimer and Emily Timberlake, Kristen Essig, the opening chef for Dauphine’s in Washington, D.C., shares her recipe for mussels in absinthe. “Every ingredient has its place and elevates what seems like a simple preparation to something with deep New Orleans soul,” Bodenheimer writes.


  • For the poached mussels
  • 5 lbs (2.3 kg) mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine
  • __________________
  • For the absinthe marinade
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) reserved mussel broth
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Herbsaint
  • 1 large shallot, thinly shaved
  • 2 large sprigs thyme, leaves stripped from the stems and lightly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly shaved
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Tools:large pot with lid, bowl, large bowl, high-sided sauté pan
  • Garnish:crème fraiche, fried saltines


Discard any mussels with cracked shells or that are opened. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the mussels and thyme sprigs to the pot and pour the wine over the top. Cover the pot and cook 3 to 5 minutes, shaking the pot (with the lid on) once or twice during cooking. After 3 minutes, check the mussels. Most should be open by now—if not, re-cover and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Discard any mussels that still haven’t opened by this time and shell the remainder. Place the mussel meat in a bowl and store in the refrigerator. Save 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the mussel cooking broth. Discard the shells.

In a large bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients, stirring to mix. Add the mussels, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

To serve, remove the mussels from the refrigerator to take a bit of the chill off. Serve with crème fraiche and fried saltines.

Note: To fry saltines, heat some neutral oil in a high-sided sauté pan to 350°F (175°C). Fry the saltines (working in batches as necessary so as not to crowd the pan) until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving.

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