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Moules Three-Ways

Preparing the mussels for these dishes

The secret, as ever, is in the freshness of the mussels.  A fresh mussel is shiny, closed and heavy with seawater. All mussels should be tightly closed before you begin to cook, and any mussels that are not should be discarded.  The preparation can be done in advance. Wash the mussels in a large bowl and under cold running water. Mussels that float at this stage are not very fresh, so discard them. Remove any barnacles and beards, but don’t scrub the shells, as this can end up colouring the cooking juices. Drain.

Moules Marinière

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes

1.8kg fresh mussels120g unsalted butter1 small white onion3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley100ml dry white wine4 bay leaves8 thyme sprigs2 tablespoons double cream

Prepare the mussels, as above.

Finely dice the onion. Coarsely chop the parsley. Boil the wine in a small pan for 30 seconds.

In a large saucepan over a high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, bay leaves and thyme, stir and then pour in the wine. Bring to the boil, add the mussels and cover with a tight-fitting lid.

Cook for 2–3 minutes until the mussels open. Stir in the cream and chopped parsley.

Serve with good French bread.

Provençal Breadcrumbs for Moules Provençal below:

Apart from the topping for these baked mussels, this makes a wonderful herb crust for alamb rack, or a topping for pasta dishes. Vary the herbs, as you wish, substituting the parsley and thyme in this recipe with rosemary, basil, tarragon or chervil.

Makes: 130g

Preparation time: 5 minutes               

These savoury breadcrumbs can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week or freezer for up to one week. Use straight from the freezer.

100g bread, dried1 garlic clove, finely sliced¼ bunch (about 20g) flat leaf parsley2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oilsea salt and freshly ground black pepper

The bread must be completely dry before you grind it, or the moisture combined with the olive oil will make it lumpy.

Place the dried bread, garlic, parsley and thyme leaves into a food processor, and pulse until it has a sandy texture (with specks of green parsley). Or do this with a handheld blender. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and pulse to mix it evenly. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge or freezer until required.

Moules Provençal

Preparation time:  10 minutes           

Cooking time: 30 minutes

1.8kg fresh musselsAbout 100g Provençal breadcrumbs (see recipe below)1 small white onion2 bay leaves4 thyme sprigs2 tablespoon unsalted butter100ml dry white wine

Pre heat the oven to 200ºC.

Prepare the mussels, as above. Prepare the Provençal breadcrumbs, following my recipeabove. Finely dice the onion.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a high heat. Add the onion, bay leaves and thyme, reduce the heat to medium, stir, cover with a lid and cook for 1 minute or until the onion has softened. 

Increase the heat to high, add the mussels, pour in the white wine cover with a lid andcook for 1-2 minutes – enough time for the mussels to open. 

Drain the mussels in a colander and over a bowl, saving the cooking juices. Place themussels on a baking tray.

Carefully remove one half of each mussel shell and discard it – this leaves the musselflesh inside one half of the shell, and ready for the breadcrumb topping. Place the mussels on a baking tray.

At this stage you can add a little extra hit of garlic by topping each mussel withgarlic butter.

Sprinkle some of the Provençal breadcrumbs over each mussel and place in the pre heatedoven for 3-5 minutes until golden. Serve with some crusty bready and a rosé from Provence.

Mussels with Lemongrass, Lime and Coconut

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes            

Cooking time:        10 minutes

1 banana shallot or ½ onion 1 lemongrass2cm root ginger2 or 3 red chillies, to your taste3 tbsp refined olive oil1.8kg fresh mussels150ml dry white wine200ml coconut milk½ bunch coriander, roughly chopped4 pinches sea salt

Prepare the mussels, as described. Finely slice the shallot (or onion). Smash the lemongrass stick, and coarsely chop it. Peel and grate, or finely slice, the ginger. Halve the chillies, and remove and discard the seeds.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on a medium heat. Add the shallots, lemongrass,ginger and chilli, stir, cover with a lid and cook for 1–2 minutes until soft.

Increase the heat to high and, when the pan is nice and hot, add the mussels and pour inthe white wine.

Boil for 1–2 minutes, pour in the coconut milk, cover with the lid again and return to the boil. By now all the shellfish should have opened. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened. 

Serve with crusty bread or a bowl of fluffy Jasmine rice.

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