2 lbs. fresh, live mussels, rinsed and cleaned of their little beards. Discard any that are already dead and/or don’t close tight when you annoy them.
3 shallots, halved and sliced very thin.
3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin.
2 red bell peppers, cut into sticks.
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste.
Pinch ancho chile powder.
Few threads of saffron.
1 bottle of a decent lager or pilsner beer at room temperature. I used a Samuel Smith Organic Lager.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Chopped parsley to finish.
In a large, heavy pot with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. (The lid should be off at this point. Sort of goes without saying, but people sometimes. Oy.)
Place the saffron threads in a tablespoon of warm water to get them going.
Add the shallots and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to let them brown, then add a small pinch of salt, grind some pepper, and add in the garlic. Stir together and cook for a minute or so. Do not let the garlic brown.
Add in the peppers, chile powder and saffron and boost the heat to medium-high. When the peppers soften but before they’re mush, add in the mussels. Stir to combine everything, add the beer, stir again and put on the lid. Crank the heat.
Now walk away for five minutes. It’s hard, I know. I don’t much like it either. But it’s necessary.
If it’s a clear lid, just keep peeking until all the mussels have opened. If it’s not a clear lid, try to be judicious about taking it off to peek. It’s the steam and pressure you need to cook them properly.
Add in the parsley and stir together. Serve with a crusty bread and an empty bowl for shells.