…And struggling to let go of the French Alps…
Spring it may be, but it seems the skiing bug is still coursing through my veins – I can’t stop thinking about it, that and all the delicious French morsels that passed my lips. I’ve always shied away from making moules, for some illogical reason always expecting it to be complicated, but I thought a rainy Tuesday evening was a good time to expand my repertoire, and in a bid to keep the holiday dream alive, I set out to see how difficult it would be to recreate this French favourite. Kitchen novices rejoice, because as it turns out, it’s lemon-squeezy.
First, procure your mussels. I picked up a top quality lot from Loch Fyne because I love theirs so much. They came plump and ready-prepared with the most delicious fresh sea aroma (see below). If you’ve been traversing local shores and your mussels are totally au naturel, wash them thoroughly under cold water before removing the little beards that stick out.
Chop shallots, crush garlic and fry with a little oil or butter in a large pot, to soften. Some say you shouldn’t use both onion and garlic at the same time, because they are both so flavourful and this can confuse the palate. My palate has always seemed pretty happy with whatever has come its way, so personally I choose to ignore this. Plus, the chopped shallots gives extra texture to the yummy soup at the bottom of your bowl when it comes to mopping up with copious amounts of bread at the end. All real moules fans know this is the best part of the meal!
At this point, pop in some white wine and a little chilli (optional, I like it). Meanwhile, get your seasoned skinny fries in the oven – frites are a must. All that’s left to do then is to add the rest of the wine (a miniature 250ml bottle will do) and whack in the mussels. You can always steam the mussels in cider if you prefer. Cooking time depends on your preference, but I always say at least five minutes. Pour in the cream and chopped parsley or thyme and take off the heat. Serve with plenty of crusty French bread and butter.
You could also try adding bacon, celery, asparagus or mushrooms for example, for a little twist. Magnifique.