Mussels in a white wine sauce
Moules Marinieres is a classic way of cooking mussels in France and they are perfect at the moment. They are high in protein and low in fat, and what fat they do contain is rich in Omega 3. They are also a superb source of minerals and are great to share with a couple of friends; I adore any food that can be picked up in the fingers and eaten informally, it sets the tone for relaxed pleasure.
Everyone has their own method of detaching the mussel from its shell, my preferred way is to choose one half of a shell as a tool that I push under the “foot” and gently lever, then it becomes a spoon.
- 2 kilos of mussels (see Tip)
- 2oz butter
- ½ pint Muscadet or dry white wine
- 1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
- 4 tbs of creme fraiche
- 4 generous sprigs of parsley, roughly chopped
Melt the butter in a large pan and saute the finely chopped garlic. Add the wine and bring to the boil, turn your heat to full and tip in the mussels, put on the lid and steam. Shake the pan to move the mussels around a little and cook for several minutes until they are wide open.
Lift the mussels out into a large serving bowl, removing any that have not opened. Reduce the liquor by half over a high heat and stir in the cream and parsley. It’s not normally necessary to add any additional seasoning.
Ladle rather than pour the sauce over the mussels, to leave any grains of sand in the pan, and serve with french bread to mop up the juices or/and chips.
You may prefer your recipe with more garlic, more or less cream, a little pepper or salt. This recipe suits our tastes but it is only a provisional guideline.
Tip: Mussels must be alive before they are cooked. At the fish counter you can tap the mussels that have opened their shells to check their immediate closing reflex. If they close they are alive! If they fail to respond think about changing your menu. Also look for broken shells, as they will have to be discarded as well.
The prepared boxes with a sell buy date are usually ok, I presume they have been preselected and then packed by hand. Loosely open the bag and store in the fridge until preparation later the same day. Preparation depends on the mussels, I tip them into a sink of cold water and quickly check each one to ensure the shell is intact and closed. If they are large and have big beards trim them off before piling into a colander, for special occasions I scrape off any barnacles. Then I rinse again in fresh water.
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