Mussels are something that you either love or hate, in my opinion. I know many people, including one of my closest friends, who despise them. I however, adore them. They are versatile and so easy to prepare, but when you serve them to guests’, they are so beautiful and impressive. I would order mussels at any opportunity and given I live(d) in Vancouver, where seafood (including the best salmon) are bountiful, this was quite often.
I still remember the first time I made mussels. I had two of my girlfriends over and I decided to make mussels. So, over I went to Granville Island (in Vancouver, BC) and I went straight to the wharf where the fishermen bring in their bounty. I walked from stall to shall and finally chose my fisherman (lol, this sounds so wrong). I came home with these beautiful, dark purple creatures of the sea and had no idea what to do from there. So, google I did and away I went (as an aside, am I the only one that wonders what I did before google?!) I remember Mel and Bart, my two friends, were literally speechless when I served them and I remember Mel taking a picture and sending it to her boyfriend, saying ‘ha ha’, look what I am eating. The recipe below is identical to the ones I served them almost 3 years ago, it hasn’t changed a bit, you just can’t mess with perfection when they are this good (and I think I may have won over a few more friends along the way with this recipe, including you Caits!).
Here in France, “moules frites” are very popular, especially now that mussels are finally in their prime season. I walked by the fishmonger in the market every day, just waiting for mussels to be there. Finally, last week, there they were – just waiting for me. I immediately bought 1.5lbs and ran home (side note – they were so inexpensive – like 2 euros, which is a steal). Needless to say, it was a happy happy night in my kitchen (and I made CH very jealous via Skype that night, as I devoured my mussels without him!)
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and don’t forget to serve a fresh baguette alongside, soaking up the broth is one of the best parts!
Moules à la Provençale
Yield: About 4 servings (figure about 1lb of mussels per person, for main course)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 – 15 minutes
- 3 – 4lbs fresh mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
- 1 large leek (white parts only), minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup white wine (I use a French muscadet or a sauvingnon blanc)
- 1.5 cups chicken stock
- 4 – 5 roma tomatoes (or two large tomatoes), diced (or whatever tomatoes you prefer)
- 1/2 cup parsley, minced
- 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 lemon
Prepare your mussels for cooking by removing the beards and scrubbing them clean.
In an extra large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once glistening, add the leek, shallots and garlic. Sauté until shallots are translucent and leeks are slightly soft (2 – 3 minutes).
De-glaze the pan with the white wine and cook for 1 – 2 minutes (this will burn-off the majority of the alcohol).
Add the mussels to the pan and stir gentle to coat, then add the chicken stock to the pan and cover with a tight fitting lid.
Cook mussels, covered, for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove the lid and check the mussels. If more than 2/3 of them are open, proceed. If not, replace lid and give them another minute or two.
Add the tomatoes, butter and parsley to the pan and stir gently. Cook the mussels for an additional 2 – 3 minutes (without the lid), until the tomatoes are soft.
When ready, place the mussels in a large serving bowl/platter, and top with the liquid (which is delicious soaked up with a toasted baguette). Place lemon wedges alongside the mussels, to garnish as you please.