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On Moules Mariniére

Moules Mariniére

I love most seafood.  Lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops- all favorites.  But I was never a big fan of clams, especially the raw ones.  And mussels – not so much either.

But, my other half really loves mussels.  I mean really loves them.

He orders them by the trough-full, if we go out to any French restaurant.  And speaking of the French, they do mussels, like the Italians do pasta. Often, with many variations and always good!

So, for some odd reason (which for the life of me escapes me now), I decided I would try making them for dinner.  (Why didn’t I stick to my usual man-pleasing staple of chocolate chip cookies?)

I have never bought, nor cleaned, prepped, cooked, de bearded or whatever else you need to do to a mollusk before eating it.

So, I consulted the BIG book of anything-you-ever-wanted-to know-about-preparing-food.  A little ditty by Jacques Pepin.

And yes Chris, you were right. Quelle Surprise! You told me that even though there were things in that book -like chopping off a ducks head and plucking the pin feathers out- that I wouldn’t use, it would, in fact, come in handy one day.

So, armed with BIG BOOK and an idea of ingredients I had seen in the dish from when Chris has ordered it a thousand times before, we started.

Now, the biggest pain in the ass and time sucking activity is the cleaning.

You basically need to clean and inspect each mussel.  You want only mussels that are alive.  And you want to use them the same day you buy them. If they are closed, that is a good sign.  If they are open, gently slide a knife in to touch the mussel. If the shell closely slowly, that is also a good sign.  If not, toss it – it is dead as a doornail!

Next, you clean.  Scrub the outside, cut off the beard (though sometimes this is done for you already), and soak them a few times.

The first time, throw a few handfuls of flour into the water. This will encourage them too release their sand.  You don’t want gritty mollusks!  Soak for about an hour.

Second soak should be plain cool water, for about half an hour.

Rinse again and you are ready to begin cooking.  Here is what you will need to serve 2:

Moules Mariniére

2 pounds of mussels
about a cup of good white wine
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
few glugs of good olive oil
bunch of chopped parsley
a few springs of fresh thyme
a few threads of saffron dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
1 bay leaf
3-4 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt
pepper

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In a large Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat.  Add shallot, cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 3 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients(except mussels), stir, turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Then add mussels and stir them gently.  Cover and steam for only about 4-5 minutes, until they open. Not any longer.  It is important not to overcook them- they will turn to rubber.

It is a good idea to shake the pot a few times, so that the mussels don’t stick and burn.

And again, discard any mussels that did not open during the cooking process.

Mussels

Pour the entire mixture into a large bowl, spooning the broth over the mussels.  Serve in individual bowls with a glass of the white wine used in the recipe and large chunks of baguette to soak up all the delicious juices.  Bibs are also a welcome idea.


Mussels


You can also pour the entire mixture over linguine for a hardier dinner.

I now look forward to cooking up some variations in the sauce, like pernod and cream or Provençal with tomatoes.  Oh the possibilities…..

Do you like mussels?  What is your favorite way to prepare or eat them?
  • User Gravatar
    Isabelle
    July 22nd, 2009

    I LOVE moules marinières!
    I had some last week while I was in Le Touquet, a really nice seaside resort in the North of France.
    The recipe for moules marinières I know is simpler than yours: mussels, white wine, onions, celery and parsley.
    But your recipe looks delicious too ;)

  • User Gravatar
    My Melange
    July 22nd, 2009

    Well, I am quite sure yours was better, since you had it it’s birthplace. The Motherland, ifyou will! I always have to complicate matters. Actually, I think I need the extra flavorings because they are not my fav :) I will certainly give yours a try, too!
    Also, where can I find pictures of your recent travels to the South of France?? Love to se them, dahling!

  • User Gravatar
    Isabelle
    July 22nd, 2009

    I don’t have my own blog, so I’m not used to taking pictures of the places I visit. I buy postcards sometimes though… It was a short 3 day trip (I live near Paris).
    You might already know that mussels are usually served with French fries in restaurants, and the flavors match perfectly well!!

  • User Gravatar
    poppy fields
    July 22nd, 2009

    Love love these too and linguine is a better idea than the “frites” we usually eat with moules

  • User Gravatar
    My Melange
    July 22nd, 2009

    I have always seen them with frites in Franceor Frenchresto’s here in theStates. And while I think that’s cool and casual, I think the linguine classesit up a notch :)

  • User Gravatar
    My Melange
    July 22nd, 2009

    Well, Isabelle, I think you are so lucky to life nearParis. And yes- Moules Frites are a tasty bistro dish! On that we can agree :)

  • User Gravatar
    anne
    July 22nd, 2009

    I love moules marinières too!! My friend Sally in Norfolk cooked them for me..not sure of the whole recipe, but I know that she diced some leek, and some carrot, put in the wine then the Mussels..a few minutes later they were done, she put them on a big plate and the liquid into our soups bowls, and chucks of bread ..Tasty!..

  • User Gravatar
    My Melange
    July 22nd, 2009

    Oh Anne, that sounds like a great recipe too!!  And when someone else makes them for you, they always taste better ;)
     

  • User Gravatar
    the paris apartment
    July 23rd, 2009

    These pics are making my mouth water! I’ve never actually made mussels but think I’ll order them next time I’m out!

  • User Gravatar
    Merisi
    July 23rd, 2009

    Good morning, Robin!
    I spent a long weekend in Venice where we had some of the best moules marinières ever, not to start raving about all that other fabulous seafood on our plates.
    Thank you for mentioning my Venice postcard on Twitter -
    there will be more over the course of the next days. I am still wrapped in my Venetian dreams. ;-)
    Thanks to you I joined Twitter: I am “La_Merisi” – “Merisi” was already taken. :-(

  • User Gravatar
    My Melange
    July 23rd, 2009

    I think you should- and then come back and let me know how you liked them!! 

  • User Gravatar
    My Melange
    July 23rd, 2009

    Isn’t it magical?!  I love Venice as well.  I think it is not hard to.  Congrats on joining Twitter!  I will be looking forward to following you and you thought on Venice :)
     

  • User Gravatar
    Angie
    July 29th, 2009

    Hey Robin,
    I also love moules and can’t get enough of them when in France. Luckily, there are two restaurants here in Boulder, Colorado that serve fabulous moules so luckily I don’t have to cook them myself.

  • User Gravatar
    My Melange
    July 30th, 2009

    Oh, you are lucky girl :)  And I have yet to have them in France- only Quebec!  Close enough though, right Ang?  
     

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