5 must-have seafood dishes of Denver, Colorado

Published on
December 6, 2019

SS-IMG-2019-12-06-MercantileMusselsCulinaryCorner-NL.jpg2. Matt Vawter’s Bang Island Mussels at Mercantile Dining and Provision

Following in the footsteps of Chef Alex Seidel’s two previous ventures, Fruition Restaurant and Fruition Farms Mercantile is described as seasonally inspired “elevated comfort food” served in relaxed surrounds.

With a menu divided into garden, grain, seafood, and meat, seafood gets a very generous portion; from Hamachi Crudo, to Diver Scallops. But Chef Matt Vawter says “there would be a revolt” if he took the Bangs Island Mussels off the menu. And indeed, it’s been there since day one, over five years ago.

Bangs Island mussels are hand raised on ropes in the cool, clear waters of Casco Bay, Maine.

Chef Matt offered SeafoodSource his secret recipe:

Bang Island Mussels, Toasted fregola, house made fennel sausage, tomato butter 


  • 1 oz canola oil 
  • 2 oz. pork fennel sausage 
  • 1 teaspoon brunoise shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 
  • 12 Bang Island mussels {cleaned and beards removed}
  • 5 oz white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 oz. tomato puree {puree from canned San Marzano tomatoes, blended} 
  • 2 oz fregola pasta {pre-cooked} 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • salt and white pepper to taste 


  1. Heat pan on the burner, add canola oil. Once the oil is hot {just below smoking point} add fennel sausage {in pulled apart balls} and brown on all sides.
  2. After the sausage have browned, add shallots and garlic and sweat for 30 seconds over a low heat so they do not brown.
  3. After the shallots and garlic are thoroughly sweated, add mussels into the pan, and toss all together. Return to heat and deglaze with white wine. The wine will reduce quickly, once the majority of the wine is gone and the alcohol has been cooked off, add in your chicken stock, tomato puree and fregola pasta.
  4. Now everything has been added place the pan on high heat and allow the sauce mixture to reduce while cooking the mussels. This should take around 3 to 4 minutes and the mussels will be opening and cooking while the sauce reduces. Make sure all mussels have opened all of the way. If they are partially open, use a spoon to force them the rest of the way. If a mussel does not open, discard it, it is more than likely dead and you do not want to eat it.
  5. Once all of you mussels are open, finish your pan sauce with butter, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. The butter will emulsify and make your sauce nice and creamy. 
  6. For serving, spoon out mussels and accoutrement in equal parts into a correct sized serving bowl. There will be a bit of sauce left over, pour over the top of the mussels in the bowl. Garnish with fresh herbs or micro greens if desired. 

Photo courtesy of Mercantile Dining and Provision

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