Fat Tuesday

Am I allowed to write a blog post about Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking if my name isn’t Julie? Oh well, here goes. A classic from a classic.

Moules à la Marinière
For 6-8 people

Here is the simplest version of this most typical of French methods for cooking mussels. They are steamed open in a big pot with wine and flavorings, and it only takes only about 5 minutes. Then the mussels, shells and all, are dipped out into soup plates, and the cooking liquor is poured over them. Each guest removes the mussels one by one from their shells with fingers or a fork and discards the shells into a side dish. In addition to shell dish and fork, provide your guests with a soup spoon for drinking up the mussel juices, a big napkin, and a finger bowl. long with the mussels serve French bread, butter, and a chilled, light, dry white wine such as a Muscadet, dry Graves, or one of the Pouillys.

2 cups of light, dry white wine or 1 cup dry white vermouth
An 8- to 10-quart enameled kettle with cover
1/2 cup minced shallots, or green onions, or very finely minced onions
8 parsley sprigs
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
6 TB butter

Bring the wine to a boil in the kettle with the rest of the ingredients listed. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate its alcohol and the reduce its volume slightly.

6 quarts scrubbed, soaked mussels

After scrubbing each mussel clean with a brush, set the mussels in a basin of fresh water for an hour or two so they will disgorge their sand and also lose a bit of their saltiness. Drain and rinse mussels, then add them to the kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. Frequently grasp the kettle with both hands, your thumbs clamped to the cover, and toss the mussels in the kettle with an up and down slightly jerky motion so the mussels with change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes the shells will swing open and the mussels are done.

1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley

With a big skimmer, dip the mussels into wide soup plates. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Julia Child. Mastering the Art of French Cooking.


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