French Moules (Steamed Mussels)
Any chance I can get to cook French, I do. Not only do we love French food but it also takes us back to a place that we love. When I heard that one of our recipe development assignments was French inspired, I had visions of comfort food. I had anticipated a cold, wintry night, and I was going to fill you up with a rich stew or roasted rabbit. Then the weather turned on me, which provoked a change of plans. Now I get to share another delicious French recipe that is a favorite of ours.
What, I am, about to share with you would be a great dinner idea for Valentine’s Day. Being French and all …. You still have time to rush to the market and gave the items. It is simple, easy, and you won’t waste a lot of time behind the stove.
We often get asked about our favorite places to eat in Paris. We don’t go to the “big names”; instead, we wander the streets, hand-in-hand, looking for intimate bistros. A few years ago, on a cobbled stone alley way, we found a little place that pulled us in. One of our favorite things on their menu was the Moules with Frites, simply translated to mussels and French fries. We usually don’t eat them back in the states, as most places want to load their recipe with a tomato base, sausage or even curry. While this is fine and dandy, it is not very traditional nor very French. The tender and sweet mussels that we enjoyed that afternoon, while in Paris, were simply steamed with shallots, garlic, white wine and butter.
This recipe is fool-proof, quick and dirty, and you will have a traditional French dinner on the table in no-time. When I buy mussels, I ask my fish monger, to give me the smallest ones he has. They are a bit plumper and sweeter. As soon as you get home unwrap the mussels; you don’t want to kill them, and keeping them wrapped up in a plastic bag will do that. Just ponder that idea, if you were wrapped up in plastic, it wouldn’t be a good thing. Discard any mussels that are chipped, broken or open; DO NOT eat them. Thirty minutes before you plan on starting your dish, soak the mussels in cold water, this will urge them to spit out some of that extra sand they carried back with them. If, they are a little hairy, simply remove the beard. Holding the mussel in one hand, and pull at the beard with the other hand, until it comes off. Easier than it sounds. Then use a stiff brush to scrub off any extra surprises that may be attached to the mussel shell.
While the mussels are soaking, I start preparing the broth, by finely mincing the shallots, and slicing the garlic into thin slices. Then I melt the butter and lightly sauteed the shallots and garlic until they are soft and fragrant. By the time the mussels are cleaned, I am one step closer to a wonderful meal. Just before serving, I reheat the butter mixture, stir in the mussels and add the wine. Within 8 minutes, I am taken back to a place far, far, away. Bon Appetite!
Recipe: French Moules