Seriously plump, steamed mussels in a broth that will have you looking for the whole loaf of bread.
The first time I had these mussels, I was walking by a bistro in Paris where a woman had an enormous bowl of mussels and a basket of fries in front of her. It stunned me; mussels had never been served as the centerpiece. They were only served as an appetizer or alongside some larger seafood melody or stew.
After ordering my first bowl of Moules Marinières (French for mussels cooked in wine) with frites, I was confronted with the lovely task of slowing down to pick each mussel from its shell, forcing me to savor every bite. Once I got to the broth I felt like the mussels I had just enjoyed were merely jettisoned to reveal a bowl of sea-salty, creamy, wine broth that begged for dipping bread.
Now that I live in New England, fresh mussels are everywhere and I can make this fast but grand dish as often as I like. Slowly I’ve come to my favorite way to cook it. I like the broth with homemade mayo in it instead of cream. It only takes five minutes to make, and it’s totally worth it. You’ll have it handy for upgrading anything else that might call for it too (lobster rolls, deviled eggs, etc).
I’ve also found that if you put the mussels in a bowl of flour water, not only will the mussels spit out any grit, they’ll plump up because the mussels will get nourishment from the flour. This is not a necessary step if you just need to dive into those mollusks, but it does make a noticeable difference in how ample the mussels will be.
As for frites, I almost always just go through the McDonalds drive through. They’re easily my favorite fries, and what’s to stop me when I’m already enjoying a meal limited to celebrating a few favorite simplicities?
- 2 pounds cleaned mussels
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 leek
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 3 tbsp mayo (recipe below)
- Lemon slices (optional for serving)
- Crusty bread (for serving)
Whisk the flour in 4 cups of cold water. Place the mussels in there for about an hour. While the mussels are plumping up, remove the dark green section and root end of the leek. Then cut it in half the long way, and soak it in cold water for 10 minutes to remove the grit that can be in the crevices. Slice thinly. Heat the butter in a large frying pan on low-medium heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and leek. Stir for about 10 minutes. Add the wine, raise the heat, and boil to reduce the liquid by almost half (about 15 minutes). Bring the heat back to medium. Add the mayo and stir to incorporate. Add the mussels and parsley. Cover until the mussels have opened (about 2-3 minutes). Serve with lemon slices, toasted bread, and fries.
Ingredients for homemade mayo
- 2 eggs yolks at room temperature
- 1 cup oil (I usually use olive, but veg is fine too)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp boiling water
Blend the yolks, lemon juice, and dijon in a food processor. Add the hot water; this will cook the eggs very slightly to ensure your mayo isn’t thin. With the processor going, add the oil ever so slowly. If you add the oil too fast, the mayo will be runny.