Sunday, August 7, 2011

Moules a la Mariniere

     Mussels were at the top of my list of things to try in my dutch oven.  Where better to look for the recipe than Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child?  I searched my mother's spattered copy and found Mrs. Child's recipe for Moules a la Mariniere.  Her simple, basic and most authentic version takes 10 minutes to make in your dutch oven and the end result is a pot full of sweet, tender mussels bathed in a a buttery, perfumed broth.  A loaf of crusty bread is a must, sopping up the fragrant broth and bits of shallot is the best part of eating this earthy dish.  I made these in my 12 inch oven over as many coals as would fit underneath.  Her recipe calls for 6 quarts of mussels however I purchased a 2 lb. mesh bag and it was more than enough for two people.  Cover the pot and bring the broth to a quick boil before adding the mussels, from there it only takes 10 minutes to steam them open.  For those of you who are able to find fresh mussels in your area, give this classic dish a try.  Serve them right out of your dutch oven with lots of bread and plenty of napkins.  This rustic meal is not only fun to eat but incredibly delicious too.  Bon appetit!

Moules a la Mariniere
Fresh Mussels Steamed Open in Wine and Flavorings
2 cups light, dry white wine or 1 cup dry white vermouth
1/2 cup minced shallots, or green onions or very finely minced onions
8 parsley sprigs
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
6 Tblsp butter
6 quarts scrubbed mussels
1/2 cup roughly chopped mussels

     Lightly oil or spray your dutch oven.
     Bring all but the last two ingredients to a boil over a full compliment of coals.  Boil for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate its alcohol and to reduce its volume slightly.
     Add the mussels to the dutch oven.  Cover and boil for 8-10 minutes or until the mussels have opened.  Discard any mussels that haven't opened after steaming.
     With a big skimmer, dip the mussels into wide soup plates. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

Parsley, thyme, shallots, pepper and butter flavor the broth

Bring broth to a boil and cook for several minutes

Add mussels and stir

Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes

Serve with chopped fresh parsley and a chunk of bread


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