Woodfired Muscles

Wood fired Hot Smoked Provençal Mussels


This dish is so simple. More than the sum of its parts. A great sharing dish, try these succulent, delicately smoked shellfish with char-grilled seasoned sourdough rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. Ingredients

Feeds four people.

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled, cut in half and finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 6/8 tomatoes depending on the size, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 kg cleaned mussels, discard any that are open or broken
  • 12 tea bags, ‘builders’ will do, soaked in water to create smoke
  • If you have rosemary or thyme growing in your garden cut a bunch and soak it in water to add to the embers. This will give you a wonderful smoky flavour.

To Cook the Sauce

  1. Gently heat the olive oil in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the sliced onions and cook on a medium heat for 3/4 minutes without colour.
  3. Add the garlic and carry on cooking for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the white balsamic and bring to the boil, reducing by half.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaf and bring to the boil.
  6. Pop a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.
  7. Stir from time to time.
  8. Add the tomato puree and thyme.
  9. Season with pepper. No salt needed as the juices from the mussels should do the trick.
  10. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning.


  • The sauce can be made in advance and used at room temperature.
  • Having an oily sauce helps as smoke sticks to oil.
  • The sauce looks quite thick at this point, but the fabulous juices released from the cooking mussels will deliver plenty of sauce to mop up with char-grilled bread.

Special Equipment

Finger bowls, warm water, lemon slice.

To Smoke the Mussels

    1. Heat your wood fired oven up to 300C.
    2. A bed of glowing embers are what you are aiming for at the back of your oven.
    3. Place your mussels on a tray with a lip or on a heatproof dish. Don’t pile the mussels on top of each other as the ones on the bottom will miss out on heat and smoke.
    4. Spoon over the sauce and mix the sauce and mussels together.
    5. Place the soaked tea bags on a long metal spoon or fish slice and carefully reach into the oven and scatter them over the glowing embers.
    6. Pop your tray of mussels into the oven.
    7. Close the door and flip the chimney cowl upside down on the chimney to trap all the smoke.

Warning: Use a cloth to turn the cowl upside down.

  1. Cook for 2/3 minutes then check and turn your tray 180 degrees for even cooking.
  2. Close the door and leave to smoke for another 2/3 minutes.
  3. When the mussels open and are plump they are ready to eat.
  4. Try not to over cook them, the longer you cook them the smaller and chewier they get.
  5. Be careful when eating the mussels as some of the shells may be quite brittle due to the intense heat.