I have always loved Moules Marinière. I first had them in Normandy where they are made with white wine, garlic, shallots and parsley. Last year we spent Christmas in Cornwall and I had their mussels with cider, leeks and cream. Both are delicious! On a warm sunny day in a French bistro I might prefer the light, clean taste of the French Moules Marinière but on a cold windswept beach near Port Isaac in December I was very happy with the rich, deep taste of the Cornish Porthilly mussels with clotted cream.
I’ve taken inspiration from Emily Scott’s book Sea and Shore to make this delicious dish at home. It is surprisingly simple and the trick is to get the flavor into the broth before you add the mussels. I got a deep fryer for Christmas so I also had a go at making the frites that are always served with mussels but that recipe will have to wait for its own post!
Mussels poached in a broth of cider or white wine with leeks and garlic add their own briny taste to this simple and satisfying dish.
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) live mussels
- 50 g (2 oz) unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
- 1 medium leek, washed and finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 200 ml (7 fl oz) cider or white wine
- 4 tablespoons Cornish clotted cream or crème fraiche, optional
- 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Step 1 Wash the mussels under cold running water and pull off and discard any wispy ‘beards’ from the shells. Before cooking, you need to make sure all the mussels are alive. Discard any with broken or cracked shells and any open ones that don’t close when tapped on a hard surface.
- Step 2 Melt the butter in a very large pan with a lid until it foams. Add the shallot, leek and garlic and cook for 15 minutes over medium/low heat. Don’t let it brown. Pour in the cider or wine and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add the mussels, cover and cooker for 5-7 minutes shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that are still closed after cooking.
- Step 3 Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon and divide among 6 warmed bowls. Return the pan to the heat, bring the liquid to a boil and allow to reduce for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cream and parsley. Taste for seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Pour the broth over the mussels and serve with frites or a hunk of homemade bread.