One of my favourite things to eat during the summer months when travelling through Belgium and France are “moules frites”. Moules are mussels and frites are french fries. Belgium is famous for their french fries, where there are shops dedicated to selling only frites with mayonnaise and spicey sauces and there’s even a museum dedicated to the french fry!
Ironically, I’ve never been a huge fan of french fries, unless they are homemade…but the moules I can’t get enough of! Since this past summer, I had been dreaming with making some moules marinieres at home, but haven’t been able to find the mussels in my local shopping area in London.
But now, on our holiday visit with my parents, we went to their local fish shop and bought some perfect mussels for our New Year’s Day lunch, which ended up being more of an early dinner with a delicious second plate of salmon with spaghetti squash… but that’s for another post! 😉
The following version is pretty basic, to which you can add things like roquefort cheese or other flavours should you wish to. My favourite is this basic sauce, however, and that is what we enjoyed today.
Ingredients, for 4 (or about 2 kilos of moules)
- 2 kilos fresh, medium to smaller sized mussels
- 1/2 liter dry white wine
- fresh parsely, 4-5 sprigs
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large leaks, cleaned and finely sliced
- fresh thyme, a large sprig
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 stalks celery with leaves
- 50g butter (about 1/2 stick)
Clean the mussels and rinse well to ensure they have no sand. Make sure to only use the ones that are closed, as the animal is thus alive. Set aside. (If storing overnight – before cleaning, as we did in the fridge, place a bowl filled with something heavy, such as potatoes, over top to ensure they do not open.)
Prepare all of the vegetables. Create a bouquet with the parsley, thyme, bay leaves and the part of the leaves of 2 celery stalks. I tied mine with a nylon string used for cooking. Set aside.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, garlic and saute until soft (but not long enough to change colour). Then add the bouquet and stir to mix.
Add the white wine. Immediately add the mussels and stir to mix well with the onion mixture. Add the remaining celery stalk, cut in 2-3 pieces. Cover and cook, stirring a couple of times, until all the mussels open up, about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to sit about 3 minutes, covered, before serving.
In France and Belgium, the moules are served in their own enamel-coated 1-kg cooking pots. However, as we do not have these pots, we served them in shallow bowls. Enjoy with some Spanish albarinho or favourite white wine!