Last night's Sunday Supper was the bistro classic Moules Marinieres, mussels steamed in white wine, served with fries and a crusty baguette for soaking up the sauce. I made a very simple, classic recipe with shallots, garlic, parsley, white wine and cream. I admit that I approached the mussels with some trepidation, I have always been a little wary of cooking mollusks. My guess is that this fear is due to an upsetting experience I had once eating a bad fried oyster (I didn't cook it, it wasn't my fault). I just assumed there was much opportunity for screwing something up and poisoning somebody. But I reasoned with myself that it really can't be that easy to screw things up, and I was right. The only thing remotely difficult about the process is scrubbing the shells. The cooking part was as easy as any cooking gets.
J-Cat was also nervous when I told him what I was making. To my shock, he had never had mussels before. I think he's been living in a cave. He also had never seen Alien, so I made him watch that, but only after we finished eating. We were noting that a lot of the alien stuff was clearly made with food - the alien pods were that fatty stomach lining of a cow, plus some chicken - and I'm pretty sure I saw some oysters or mussels in there at some point. I'm glad we weren't still eating. But the good news is that J-Cat loved the mussels, and the movie, and actually asked me to make it again soon. Victory!
2-3 lbs fresh live mussels
1 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and scrub the mussels well, removing any beards with a knife. If any mussels are open, squeeze on them firmly. If they do not close after you squeeze them, discard the mussel.
Heat the oil in a large heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots and garlic until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cream and bring to a light simmer. Add the mussels and give them a good stir. Cover the pot and let steam for about 3 minutes. Give the pot a good shake, then turn off the heat and let it sit covered for another 2 minutes, until all of the mussels have opened. Remove the mussels from the pot and discard any that have not opened. Bring the liquid to a simmer and taste, adjusting for salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce slightly, then add the parsley. Spoon the sauce over the mussels and top with additonal parsley. Serve with crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer.