The weather has been a bit of a roller coaster lately with blue skied sunny days interspersed with rain showers and chilly winds. A dish of Moules Marinieres is going fits nicely, being served hot but still light and fresh. Served with Crusty bread or, as the mussel loving Belgians do, with a bowl of thin chips to soak up the creamy juices, this delightfully easy dish is reminiscent of holidays in sunny climes, accompanied by good friends and a bottle of chilled sparkling wine. Citrus y Muscat is the traditional wine, yet I prefer a brut Crémant de Bourgogne.
It used to be said that mussels are only in season when there is an ‘R’ in the month, but they are now available all year round. Get them fresh from your fish dealer, any sort of vacuumed packed mussels is a no go… they have to be alive and fresh!
One of the best things about this dish is, once the mussels have been prepared, it takes less than ten minutes to cook and has to be served steaming hot. Do not worry about the wine in the food; the alcohol in the wine is boiled away before serving so this is not just a dish for adults. My five years old daughter devours mussels at lightning speed.
I managed to cut deep into my finger while preparing this dish, and had to take an hour out going to the emergency room for stitches, my apologies for too few pictures of the preparation. I’ll update the blog next time.
- 2kg of live and fresh mussels
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- Fennel root finely sliced, Carrots finely cubed
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- A dice of butter
- a bouquet of parsley, thyme and bay leaves
- a glass dry white wine
- 120ml double cream
- handful of parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- Bread, traditionally crusty bread yet I just used Focaccia
- Wash the mussels under plenty of cold, running water. Discard any open that won’t close or broken ones. Tap them against the table, and they should close, if not… it’s not for eating.
- Pull out the tough beards from between the tightly closed shells and then knock off any barnacles with a large knife. Give the mussels another quick rinse to remove any little pieces of shell.
- Soften the garlic, shallots, fennel and carrots in the butter with the bouquet garni, in a large pan big with a suiting lid. It is important that it I big enough to take all the mussels – it should only be half full.
- Add the mussels and a glass of wine turn up the heat, then cover and steam them open in their own juices for 3-4 minutes. Give the pan a good shake every now and then.
- Remove the bouquet, add the cream and chopped parsley and remove from the heat.
Finally a few snaps from my local fish pusher, who has never have left me down on freshness and quality