It’s not often I am stuck for words but for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe (Moules Marinière, p 312), I actually don’t have very much to say. I am not a fan of mussels, well actually, I just don’t eat them at all. Even though I spent a year living in Brussels where it’s one of their most well-known dishes (and where I was made to try many!), I’ve never liked them so they make very rare appearances in our household (much to Mr Neil’s chagrin!) – and mostly when I am not around! Nonetheless, I couldn’t very well miss a week of FFWD just because I don’t like something now, could I? Especially when there’s someone who was more than willing to act as a taster! And fortunately, I was able to buy 1lb of mussels at our local fishmonger for just $3.50! Bargain!
Now, I’ve obviously never cooked these so this was a bit of a learning experience for me. I know that they are supposed to be done when the shells open in the heat of the pot – Dorie suggests around 3 minutes – and, having no other benchmark to go by, I pulled these off the heat after around 4 minutes, quickly took the picture and served them to Neil who promptly pronounced them “borderline” cooked. Not knowing what else to do, I put them back in the pan on high heat for 2 more minutes (hey, I wanted to be really sure they were done!) and served them again (not entirely sure this is up there with “health and safety approved moves in the kitchen”…) and they were done. And after all that, these were just “ok”. As I was cooking them, I thought that maybe the broth might be a bit bland (I didn’t use the stock cube the recipe calls for because how do you 1/4 a quarter of a stock cube?) and just added salt instead. But not enough. I also thought there was not enough broth (that’s half the fun, isn’t it – sopping up the broth with baguette?) – next time I would add more wine and I would use a little bit of stock as well as some cream, à la Raymond Blanc.
But here’s the main point – I actually would make them again. They are easy – I’d just have to make sure a mussel-eater taste them to make sure they were cooked – and they would be perfect for a dinner party of mussel-lovers. And of course, with mussels I’d make frites. Which I’d be MORE than happy to nibble whilst everyone else was eating their mussels
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