Graybo’s moules marinières

Ok, so actually this is Anthony Bourdain‘s moules marinières with a dollop of cream and some garlic added – but since I modified the recipe successfully, I claim it as my own and you can all send your money now.

Serves 2 as a main course, just. Would probably be enough for three as a starter.

  • 1 kilogram lovely fresh mussels. We got ours from here. A bargain at three quid a kilo. For those that worry about this sort of thing, 1 kilo gave us 58 mussels. In hindsight, we could have used a little more, but that depends on what you serve it with. If you made some home-made frîtes, then this would be plenty. With just bread, then perhaps 1.2kg would be better.
  • 300 ml dry white wine. We had a cheeky Sicilian in the fridge, so I used that. Incidentally, how can wines be cheeky? This is more wine than Bourdain suggests and I think is justified when adding cream.
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced.
  • 25g butter.
  • 1 tbsp cream. I used extra thick single because we happened to have some, but normal single would do just as well.
  • 3 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
  • some parsley, finely chopped.
  • salt and pepper.

This doesn’t take long. The time-consuming bit is the cleaning of the mussels – say 20 minutes. The cooking takes just 15 minutes.

  • Firstly, clean those mussels. Bourdain gives a long examination of this subject in his Les Halles Cookbook (one of my bibles), but you can boil it down to this:
  • buy fresh. Don’t buy pre-frozen or rubbish.
  • use quickly and prepare just before you use them. Don’t store them if you can help it.
  • wash them in a colander.
  • pull the beards off – that fluffy bit that sticks out.
  • as you go, check to see if any are open. If they are, tap them and see if they close. This is fun! They actually do close quite quickly if they are open. Unless they’re dead, in which case they don’t shut and you can bung them in the bin. Out of our 58, we chucked one.
  • wash them again. And again. You can’t wash them too much, really. Leave them in the colander for the water to drain off.

Ok? Good. Have a glass of wine.

  • Next, in a big pan with a good lid (not a loose one – we used an Ikea casserole which was perfect for bringing to the table and eating straight from), melt the butter.
  • Add the shallots and scoot them around for a minute or two until soft and just beginning to brown.
  • Add the wine, garlic and cream. Bring to the boil (turn your heat up all the way) and season.
  • Throw in the mussels and put on the lid. Sit down and have another glass of wine for ten minutes (what did you think you do with the rest of the bottle?).
  • Check in the pan. The mussels should now be nicely open. Take the pan off the heat and, holding the lid on, give it a bit of a shake. Then add the parsley and shake it again.
  • Bring it to the table and serve with some good chunky bread to mop up the juices. Or frîtes.


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