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Wolfgang Puck Recipes
It's easy to make mussels at home in the classic French style: moules mariniere, meaning mussels mariner-style. All you need is a pot or pan big enough to hold them and a few basic ingredients.
My favorite kind of mussels to use are the small variety known by the French bouchots, which means "pilings" and refers to the way they are grown attached to pilings driven into the seabed in intertidal waters. These are the type we serve at Spago.
I find small mussels to be more flavorful, delicate, and tender, preferring them to larger varieties like green-lipped mussels from New Zealand.
Whatever kind you decide to use, get them from an absolutely reliable source known for offering only the freshest seafood, with a regular turnover in product. The shells should look fresh and damp, and be completely closed, an indication that the mussels are still alive. They should smell absolutely fresh, with no hint of an unpleasant iodine odor.
Cook the mussels the day you buy them, storing them on your refrigerator's bottom shelf, unwrapped and covered with a clean, damp cloth. Before cooking, soak in cool, fresh water for about 30 minutes to help purge any sand from the shells. Then, scrub them shells clean with a stiff-bristled brush under cold running water and, with your fingertips, pull off from the hinges any "beards," the filaments with which the mussels attach themselves to pilings.
Follow my Mussels Mariniere recipe and you'll find the actual cooking easy. Pay attention, though, cooking the mussels just until the moment all the shells are open. Overcooked, mussels turn rubbery. But perfectly cooked, mussels are a delicacy that will win you over from first bite.
Mussels Mariniere Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 as an appetizer; 1 to 2 as a main course
Mussels Mariniere Ingredients
1 loaf French bread, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 sprig fresh tarragon
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 pound small black mussels, cleaned, and debearded
1/4 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of sugar
Chopped fresh Italian (flat-leafed) parsley
Mussels Mariniere Recipe Instructions
Place a grill pan over high heat or preheat a broiler.
Drizzle both sides of the bread slices with olive oil. Grill or broil the bread until toasted golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep saute pan or cast-iron skillet over high heat, put the butter and immediately add the shallots, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, and cleaned mussels.
As soon as the butter has melted and the shallots and herbs have begun to turn fragrant, pour in the wine and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and a little sugar.
Cover the pan and continue to cook over high heat until the mussels have opened, about 4 minutes. Season the liquid to taste with a little more salt, pepper, and sugar, if necessary.
Discard any mussels that did not open. Leave the cooked mussels in their cooking pan for guests to share, transferring it to a trivet in the center of the dining table. Or, with a large spoon, scoop the mussels and their cooking liquid into individual large serving bowls or soup plates.
Garnish with chopped parsley. Place the slices of grilled bread on top of the mussels. Serve immediately.
Mussels Mariniere Recipe by Wolfgang Puck
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