Today we are heading back into The A-Z of Cooking to the chapter called Wine For a Change. And on the menu is the classic French dish of Moules Marinieres. This is one of my favourite dishes. I probably make this around once a month – it ticks all my boxes – it’s healthy, it’s quick and it’s cheap and so, so, tasty! Over the years my recipe has evolved so now I have my favourite version of Moules Marinieres which I will list below alongside a more pared back version from The A-Z.
Before we get into the Moules lets talk about this chapter. Wine for a Change. Not around here it isn’t. Around here it’s a basic food group. So there goes that title. There are some good recipes in this section. The Moules, Coq au vin, Peaches in Wine….oh and veal kidneys with Marsala.
You can’t win ’em all. (Sigh)
If the thought of veal kidneys with anything isn’t off-putting enough on its own, the picture is truly unsettling (It’s also at the very bottom of this post if you are brave enough).
Moules Marinieres loosely translates as Sailor’s Mussels. Be careful of your spelling if googling this. You could end up with this:
Hot damn! Ladies (and possibly gentlemen), don’t ever say I don’t give you anything. Merry Christmas. Happy Birthday and Goodnight Irene!
Where were we? I seem to have lost my entire train of thought.
Oh yeah, mussels. The thing that takes the longest with the Moules Marinieres is all your prep work. First you have to debeard and scrub all of your mussels.
Then cut up your veggies for your mirepoix I use carrot, celery, fennel and onion in mine. And for seasoning salt (I used the Port infused salt I bought in Portugal) peppercorns, a pinch of chilli flakes and a smashed garlic clove.
Cook these down then add some white wine and a splash of Pernod (optional but goes really well with the fennel and the mussels). Cook these down a bit – the longer the better! Then add wine, Pernod if using and stock and bring to the boil. Add the mussels. Add a lid. Shake the pan occasionally and in all of about 5 minutes you will have a piping hot bowl of mussels with a deliciously tasty broth.
Moules Marinieres are great with bread to soak up all that broth. And if that bread happens to be a tasty warm loaf of crusty garlic bread? Heaven…I”m in heaven….
This time though I made mussels other best friend…frites. With aioli. Hard to tell from the pictures but there were three types of frites – potato, sweet potato and parsnip.
The great thing about this recipe is that it is amenable to all sorts of changes. Don’t like cream? Don’t add it. I quite often will throw in a can of tinned tomatoes. Also, (and this is where i am sure I will have the purists tutting at me) if you can’t be arsed debearding and scrubbing the mussels, most supermarkets now sell frozen mussel meat. I always have a pack of this in my freezer so can whip this up at any time. One codicil on that though. The shells on fresh mussels do seem to add some extra flavour. If using mussel meat alone be sure to use a really good fish stock in your broth!
Here is the original recipe from The A-Z of Cooking and the original picture. I cannot tell you how much I love and covet that terracotta mussel pot. Straight to the top of my list of kitchen must haves!!!
And here is my slightly fancier version:
So, there is only ONE Chapter left in The A-Z! Will I be able to get it out before Christmas?
Moules Marinieres (With Frites)
A classic French seafood dish
- 4 dozen mussels
- 125 ml dry white wine (I used a semillon sauvignon blanc)
- 250ml fish or vegetable stock
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1 carrot finely diced
- 1/2 fennel finey diced
- 2 stalks celery finety diced
- 1 snall red onion finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushe
- 6 black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
- 3 tbsp cream
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 potatoes julienned
- 1 large sweet potato, julienned
- 3 parsnips, julienned
- Olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, roasted with the frites for 15 minutes
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup olive oil or a blend of olive and vegetable oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200 C.
- Toss the julienned veggies and 3 cloves of unpeeled garlic (for the aioli) into a bowl with a glug of olive oil, and some salt.
- Spread in a single layer on a baking tray and bake for 15 – 30 minutes (depending on size of the fries) or until golden brown, flipping halfway through. At the half way mark, remove the garlic cloves and make the aioli.
- Squeeze the roasted garlic from the skins and add to a foo processor with the egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard until combined and smooth.
- With the food processor running add the oil in a thin stream until the mixture becomes thick and creamy.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Scrub and debeard the mussels, discarding any that are open or have holes in them. Run cold water over them and drain.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots, fennel, onion and celery, salt, pepper and chilli if using and stir occasionally until softened (around 5 minutes).
- Add the wine, stock pernod and boquet garni. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for around 5 minutes.
- Add the mussels to the pan. Close the lid and cook for around 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened, shaking the pan every now and again.
- Remove the mussels from the pan and keep warm.
- Turn up the heat on the liquid left in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about a third.
- Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
- Swirl in the cream.
- Pour the sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with the parsley and serve with the frites and aioli.
- Bon Appetit!
- This dish originates from the Normandy region of France. Another variation that is true to the region is to sub out the white wine and pernod and to use cider instead!
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Absolutely not because one of the key ingredients will be a Christmas leftover. And yes, I will be slapping people’s hands away from the plate if there is even the remotest chance of there not being enough leftovers to make it!
Will there be another post of any sort before the big day?
See you in a couple of days!
Oh and for the bravest o the brave? Here are those veal kidneys: