Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Steamed Mussels

I had another absolutely fabulous class this weekend at C’est Bon! And I was far more tolerant of my classmates this weekend. I even helped that poor imbecile (who wanted to make a cheese sauce with brie last week) with her hollandaise sauce, which she kept spooning water into, instead of clarified butter.

It was Seafood Day, and one of the dishes we made was mussels. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE mussels. And they are dead easy to make. Seriously. So easy that if you like them, (and if you don’t, I suggest trying them again) you should feel empowered to invite people over for Friday night dinners in the future. As a meal, it takes all of 20 minutes to make, and you could throw a salad or some pasta with it, and it’s a delicious, wonderful meal to serve for a fun Friday night in. Maybe, you’re like one of my teachers, who told us he often grabs a bag of French fries from the chip wagon, a few beers, and cooks up some mussels with his friends. (He also said that sometimes his friends come over and they drink beer, shuck, and then eat raw oysters on a Friday night. This basically made me wonder how I could convince this man to propose marriage to me. He is the man for me, I’m sure of it.)
Check out my mussels! #lamejoke

While I plot ways to win this man’s heart, I’ll share this delightful little recipe, inspired by a French Friday Night with you.

Start with a bag of mussels, plus a bottle of beer (keep in mind, if you use a bitter beer, your sauce will be bitter. I used an IPA, and I would recommend a sweeter beer instead,) little bit of butter, a few cloves of garlic, and some fresh parsley. You will also want cream, a baguette or frites (yum), and probably couple extra beers or wine.

You can make this recipe using shallots and white wine too, in place of the garlic and beer, as we did on class on Saturday. But I thought beer might be a fun take on the classic Belgian dish, moules et frites avec bière.

Don’t be afraid of your mussels. All you need to do is rinse them thoroughly and give them a little brush under running water. Do not soak them in tap water, nor should you try to create a habitat for your mussels by adding sea salt to tap water. That’s silly. Just keep them in the fridge and try to cook them the day you get them. Let them have air. They’ll suffocate if you keep them in a sealed plastic bag, and this will be a very smelly death camp in your fridge. If they are open when you rinse them, give them a tap on your counter. If they don’t close, they’re not good, and you should throw them out. Also discard any that don’t open during the cooking process. (This makes perfect sense on several levels, but mostly on a table manners level. Very few meals allow you to crack into shelled animals and eat their flesh in a socially acceptable way.)

In a pot with a lid, big enough for your mussels, melt a little butter. Sauté your minced garlic in this until you smell it, but be careful not to let it burn. Now add your mussels, with enough beer to almost cover them, and get your heat up in there. You are steaming them, so you need the liquid to be simmering. Season with salt and pepper, place your lid on the pot and give it a shake every now and then. This won’t take long, once they’re open and unattached from one side, they’re done. Remove mussels from the broth, and then bring that up to a simmer. Add a splash of cream and check your seasoning.

Serve over the mussels with bread. Easy, classic, and delicious. Enjoy!

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