Mussels with Fennel and pancetta in white wine sauce

Mussels are a delicious, yet inexpensive seafood meal.  When served with a hunk of crusty bread it is a real treat.  It can either be served as a light meal, or as an appetizer.  Don't be afraid of using fennel.  If you have never used it before, you will be in for a pleasant surprise.  When fennel is cooked it has a soft and mildly sweet flavor that stands on its own.  Pancetta and fennel are the perfect marriage in any dish.  Enjoy!

Yields:  2 bags of mussels, approx. 50 mussels

3/4 stick of butter
1 large shallot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, sliced and rough chopped
1/4 lb. of pancetta, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
16 oz. of chicken stock
3T. chopped garlic
1 c. white wine
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
1t. fresh thyme leaves
1.5 lbs. mussels, ( 1 and 1/2 bags)
1/2 cup parmegiano-reggiano cheese grated

In medium sauce pan add butter, shallot, and onion.  Cook until transparent.  Add garlic, fennel, pancetta, thyme leaves, and natures seasoning.  Add salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.  Cook for 4 minutes; add white wine and simmer for 2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and steam on medium high.  Add the mussels and cook them until they are open and absorbing all the flavors.  Put in serving dish and top with all the vegetables, broth and parsley and parmegiano.   Serve with a hot crusty roll or bread.    Enjoy!