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How to cook moules mariniere – recipe | Felicity Cloake’s masterclass | Food


Moules marinière, or mariner-style mussels, is the kind of dish we tend to eat in restaurants, rather than at home, which is a shame, because it’s ridiculously simple to prepare, and much more fun eaten somewhere you can slurp away to your heart’s content.

It’s also surprisingly good value for money – not least because you can drink the rest of the wine with it.

Prep 5 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 2

1kg mussels
2 long shallots
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
150ml dry white wine – for example, muscadet
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley
50g butter, cubed
Salt and black pepper

1 Pick the right mussels

Ideally, buy live mussels for this, rather than the vacuum-packed ones, especially those that come in a sauce. Try the fish counter of bigger supermarkets or a fishmongers (as a bonus, they may even come ready cleaned).

Packed in damp paper or a tea towel in the bottom of the fridge, mussels will keep for at least three days – they need to breathe, so don’t shut them in a plastic bag or tub.





Felicity Cloake moules marinière. 1 Clean the mussels, and discard any with cracked shells or open ones that don’t shut when tapped.



Clean the mussels, and discard any with cracked shells or open ones that don’t shut when tapped.

2 Clean the mussels

No more than two hours before cooking, give the mussels a good scrub in cold running water, and discard any broken or open ones that don’t close when tapped. Remove any dirt or barnacles that are still attached to the shells, and pull out any fibrous little beards by giving them a sharp tug towards the hinge end of the mussel.

3 Prep the other ingredients and start cooking

Peel and finely chop the shallots and pick the leaves from the thyme sprigs. Put these and the bay leaf in a large pan that’s large enough to hold all the mussels and that you have some way of covering (if you don’t have a bespoke lid, a slightly smaller pan or baking tray will do). Put the pan over a medium heat, add the wine and bring to a simmer.





Felicity Cloake moules marinière. 3Put the shallots and herbs in a pan with the wine, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes.



Put the shallots and herbs in a pan with the wine, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes.

4 Add the mussels

Turn down the heat, cook gently for 10 minutes (chop the parsley while you’re waiting), then turn the heat up to medium-high. Tip in the mussels, cover the pan, cook for three minutes, then check on them – if most of the shells are open, they’re done; if not, cover again and cook until they are. Discard any that refuse to open.





Felicity Cloake moules marinière. 4 Add the mussels, cover and cook until they’re all open (bin any that don’t).



Put the mussels in the pan, cover and cook until they’re all open (bin any that don’t).

5 Dress with butter

Add the butter to the pan and pop the lid back on. Leave for 30 seconds, to give it time to melt, then add the parsley, season well and divide between two bowls (or serve straight from the pan). Hot chips or crusty bread are both excellent accompaniments for mopping up the sauce.

6 Variation one

To make Normandy-style mussels, replace the wine with the same amount of dry cider, and add a generous dollop of creme fraiche at the end instead of the butter. If you like, also add some chopped, unsmoked bacon with the shallots and herbs in step 3. Beer is also a good substitute.





Felicity Cloake moules marinière. Stir in the butter to melt, and add parsley.



Stir in the butter to melt, and add parsley.

7 Variation two

For French Basque-style mussels, gently fry a small, finely chopped onion, two sliced garlic cloves and one thinly sliced long red pepper in two tablespoons of olive oil, then add eight cherry tomatoes and 50g diced cured ham. Cook until the tomatoes burst, then pour in the wine and continue from step 4. Finish with a pinch of cayenne pepper.

8 Variation three

For moules au roquefort, while the wine is reducing in step 4, gently heat together 300ml creme fraiche and 100g crumbled roquefort until the latter has melted into the former – don’t bother to season, because the cheese and mussels are already salty enough. Add this to the pan instead of the butter in step 5, and continue from there.

9 Variation four

For curried moules – another French favourite – follow the recipe to the end of step 4, then scoop the mussels from the pan and set them aside. Stir in a tablespoon of mild curry powder and 200ml creme fraiche, then season to taste. Replace the mussels and serve garnished with chopped coriander rather than parsley.

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