Photo credit: Erica Garlieb Photography
When I was in pastry school in the south of France, one of my favorite weekend activities was to stroll through the surrounding beach towns in search of the best moules frites (mussels and French fries).
I don’t know if it was the French fries, the mandatory glass of lunchtime white wine, the fresh mussels straight from the crystal-blue waters, or the round table barely big enough to hold two bowls, but I felt so French sitting by the Mediterranean enjoying my little meal.
If you want to feel extra French, eat your bowl of steamed mussels as the French do: use a fork to pop out the first mussel, then use the empty shell to pinch out the rest. Stack the empty shells inside one another on the perimeter of your plate so you don’t have to hunt for the last morsel of mussel-y goodness.
- 1/2 a baguette (two slices per person)
- 1 garlic glove, peeled
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 2 pounds mussels
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 lemons, 1 zested and 1 thinly sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup cream
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Flat leaf parsley, to garnish
For the garlic bread:
- Turn broiler on high.
- Slice baguette at a deep angle and brush liberally with olive oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Broil for about 2 minutes or until deep golden-brown. Do not leave under broiler! Keep an eye on it – it can burn very quickly.
- Once toast is out of the oven, rub each piece with a garlic glove.
To prepare mussels:
- Soak mussels in cold water for 30 minutes to remove sand and grit. Gently lift mussels out of water and intro a strainer. If you pour the water and mussels out, you’ll just pour the grit back over them. Rinse well.
- Remove the beard: there will be a stringy membrane sticking out of most mussels. Yank it down towards the bottom of the mussel and discard. If it’s tough to remove, try using a paper towel for a better grip.
- Discard any cracked mussels.
- If you find any open mussels, tap them on the counter. If they do not close, discard. These mussels are already dead.
To prepare broth and cook mussels:
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, melt butter of medium heat and add shallots and garlic to soften. Do not let them brown.
- Add lemon zest, wine, and pepper. Bring to a boil.
- Gently add mussels to pot and cover immediately. Cook for 1 minute, then shake the pot.
- Cook another 1-2 minutes or until the mussels are open. NOTE: Discard any mussels that do not open after cooking.
- Transfer mussels to a large bowl, leaving broth in the pot.
- Add heavy cream to pot and simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Separate mussels in two bowls. Pour broth over top.
- Garnish with a round slice of lemon, sprig of parsley, and the slices of garlic bread. Serve and enjoy!