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mussels in creamy sauce

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Moules marinieres with cream

Do you know Lizard Head in Cornwall? It’s the southernmost point of the county, beautiful scenery, lovely coastal path good for walks for hours.

I remember it very clearly. It was where I suddenly developed an allergy to oysters. I'll skip the gruesome details but enough to say, I've not touched an oyster since. What got me must have been a/ a bad oyster from a celebrated chef’s establishment (and no, they didn’t offer me a lifetime discount) or b/ a sudden shellfish allergy. I’m aware that these things happen out of the blue, but the funny (and good) thing is, I don’t seem to be allergic to any other type of mollusc. Mussels included, thank the Lord.

Fresh mussels

Mussels are so CHEAP. The bag I bought from the market was £3.50. And that happily feeds two. Look for clean ones – you don’t want to spend hours scrubbing the barnacles off if, like me, you’re slightly put off by the little creatures who live in barnacles. The mussels I got came from the Billingsgate market and I bet you can walk around there and take your pick – of the cleanest, nicest, liveliest looking mussels there are.

The recipe has a tiny twist – the usual spiel is to cook mussels with wine, take them out and then add cream – what a waste of time. I added the cream beforehand, turned up the heat full whack and threw the shells in – they were happy as Larry cooking straight in the cream sauce.

mussels in creamy sauce


INGREDIENTS

  • one kilo of fresh mussels for two people
  • four or five spring onions
  • two large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • half a cup of double cream
  • a good glug of white wine


METHOD

Sling the mussels brutally into the sink – the ones that have started opening but are still alive will close promptly. Scrub and de-beard the mussels, discard the ones that are smashed or won’t close. If not cooking straight away, put them in a bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel and store in the fridge. They’ll survive a day.

Prepare a large pan to easily hold all the mussels. Chop up the spring onion, melt the butter in the pan, add the onion, garlic and the sprigs of thyme. Cook for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Pour in the cream – let it bubble. Turn the heat up full whack and sling the mussels in together with a glug of wine. Cook for a few minutes giving the pan a good shake once or twice. Turn the heat off when they start to open up, then serve with crusty bread. And French fries if you want to go all Belgo.

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