There’s only one thing tricky about making Moules Marinières, and that’s getting your act together enough to buy the mussels in the first place. Obviously, they’re not something you can keep in the fridge for very long so it tends to be a “buy the same day you want to eat them” situation. But once you’ve got over that hurdle, this recipe is embarrassingly easy. I’ve cooked it in no time when I’ve had a few people round. And I cooked it for 8 people recently which, again, was quick to cook, but de-bearding 3kg of mussels was a bit of a pain! There appears to be some level of debate as to whether a Moules Marinières should include cream. I’m in the ‘vote no’ camp, so this recipe doesn’t include it. But sometimes I have added a small amount right at the end if the people I’m cooking for prefer it. Either way, it’s great cosy food.
Before I first attempted this recipe I was a nervous about cooking mussels for some reason. I worried about giving everyone food poisoning, but there’s really nothing to it. And having cooked this quite a lot, I can safely say I have a current 100% success rate in not poisoning myself or others.
Prepping your mussels:
Buy your mussels the same day you want to cook them and prep them as soon as you get home. The longer they’re prepped and sitting happily in chilled water, the less likely you’ll end up with any grit in your dinner.
1. Tap any mussels that are partly open, and throw away any that do not close tightly (you’re looking for signs of life!)
2. Rinse each mussel in cold water and pull the hairy ‘beard’ from the mussel
3. Put the de-bearded mussels into a large bowl (as big as you have) with cold water
4. Keep changing the water as often as you can. As the mussels sit in the water, they open and close, and any grit that might be within their shells gets expelled into the water
Moules Marinières (serves 4)
- 50g butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1.5kg mussels, prepped as above
- 200ml white wine (with this recipe, don’t go for really cheap plonk as it’s a huge part of the overall flavour)
- A bay leaf
- Large bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper
Gently heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan (the larger the better, with a lid)
Add the garlic and onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Be gentle – don’t brown or frazzle them
Add the mussels, wine, bay leaf and seasoning, bring to the boil, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until all the mussels have opened
Finally add the parsley (and a little cream if you choose), put the lid back on and shake vigorously
Serve at once, discarding any mussels that haven’t opened
Ideally serve in large bowls, ensuring you’ve divvied up both the mussels and the sauce evenly. Serve with either crusty French bread, or frites-style oven chips. Put empty bowls on the table for the shells, and crack open an ice cold bottle of Muscadet. Bon appétit!