The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated separately overnight.
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 pound artisanal Italian spaghetti or linguine
- Freshly ground pepper
In a large pot, combine the wine with the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan a few times, until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Drain the mussels in a colander set over a medium bowl. Pour the mussel broth into a glass measure. Crumble the saffron into the mussel broth.
Discard any unopened mussels. Remove the mussels from their shells and place in a bowl. Pour the melted butter over the mussels and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap.
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the thinly sliced garlic and cook over low heat just until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute longer. Slowly pour in the reserved mussel broth, stopping when you reach the grit at the bottom of the glass measure. Add the lemon juice and simmer over moderately high heat until the sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 8 minutes.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti just until al dente. Drain the pasta well.
Add the buttered mussels and the hot spaghetti to the mussel sauce and toss over low heat until the pasta is uniformly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to warmed shallow bowls and serve at once.