My wife and I have a special place reserved in our hearts for Moules et Frites–it was the first restaurant meal we shared at the long since closed Santo’s Bistro in Vancouver. For me they also bring back fond memories of my time as a student in Montreal, where cheap mussels were a staple at home and in the bars that lined Saint Laurent Boulevard.
We serve mussels on special occasions and this time it was for my wife’s birthday. Cooking mussels can be as simple as steaming them until they open and serving them with a little garlic butter, but we like to go the extra distance.
- Mussels in Cream Sauce
- French fries
- Balsamic glazed snow peas
- Sliced mango
- Crusty baguette for dipping
- Milk for the kids, Lillet and soda for the adults
Recipe: Mussels in Cream Sauce
- 2 lbs Wild or cultured Mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
- 4 tbs Butter, salted or unsalted
- 1 c Mirepoix (finely diced onions, carrot, celery, peppers, parsley, etc.)
- 1 c White wine
- 1/4 c Red or orange bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1/4 c Baby asparagus tips
- 4 cloves Minced garlic
- 1 Tbs Flat leafed parsley
- 1/2 c Whipping cream (or to taste)
- Fresh ground black pepper to finish
- In a medium sauce pan melt 3 Tbs butter and saute the mirepoix to soften
- Add white wine and five mussels in the shell and bring to a high simmer
- Remove the mussel meat when the shells open and return the shells to the pan, reserving the meat
- Simmer the stock covered for a few minutes, uncover, add a cup of water and bring to a boil
- Remove the pan from the heat and strain into a heat proof bowl squeezing as much liquid as possible from the cooked mirepoix
- You should be left with approximately 1 1/2 c of stock, if not add a little water or wine to extend
- In a deep saucepan large enough to hold the finished dish, melt 1 Tbs of butter and lightly saute the garlic, and remaining vegetables for one to two minutes
- Add the stock and whipping cream to the pan, stir to combine and bring to a low boil
- Add the mussels and stir to combine
- Cover and cook until the mussels open
- Remove from heat immediately and add reserved parsley, mussel meat and pepper
- Transfer to a decorative bowl and serve hot
Notes: The cooking process essentially involves 2 steps: making a stock and cooking the mussels. If you wish to use a mild fish stock or a low sodium chicken stock you can skip to step six above, but you should add a half cup of sliced onions along with the peppers and asparagus tips before adding the stock and whipping cream. I’m a bit torn between using unsalted butter or salted butter in this dish. The result is naturally quite salty due to the liquid released from the shells when they open. If you prefer less salt then definitely use unsalted butter in the rest of the cooking process. The mirepoix is a thing of personal preference, but it almost always should include carrots and onions. Normally I would include celery, but I had none on hand.
Serves 4-6 depending on appetite.