Thursday, 28 August 2014

Moules frites

I’ve never cooked mussels before, so here we go. Everyday's a school day. A Belgian classic! I bought two kilos in Carrefour on Monday, today is Wednesday.
I watched a video from the BBC on what to do in order to prepare the mussels for the pot. I also phoned my lovely MiL. She suggested soaking the mussels in salted water for an hour – an hour and a half after cleaning them and before cooking them.
I tipped the packets of mussels into a sink of cold water. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next: they gurgled and fizzed. Kinda freaky. And the smell! They smell of the sea! Lovely!
Mussels from Zeeland, via Carrefour

By the time I scrubbed and debearded them, and then discarded any that didn’t shut, I had about one kilo left. I didn’t want to take any chances on getting sick, so any that were even a millimetre open also went into the bin.
I then put them into a large bowl of salted water and put this into the fridge until I was ready to cook them. My MiL said that this would help them disgorge the last of the sand they’d retained.
I used a lot of salt to make the little blighters feel at home

So, for mussels:
  •          a good knob of butter
  •          1 leek, finely chopped into rings
  •          lots of parsley
  •          a couple of cloves of garlic, crushed
  •          a glass of white wine
  •          a dribble of cream.

I have to be honest. I had a glass of wine before starting to steady the nerves. I never drink and cook. I was very nervous about cooking these and about potentially giving Hubs (and I) food poisoning. And cooking something that is alive. eeeeek!
I sweated the leek and garlic in the butter to start off, added the glass of wine and let those get acquainted for about five minutes, before adding the mussels and the chopped parsley. These were cooked for about 3 minutes. I could have cooked them for a minute longer though. At the very end, I added the cream.
The mussels were then plated in a large soup bowl and I reduced the sauce a bit. I served the lot with some oven-cooked homemade chips (chop a couple of peeled spuds into chips, pop them into a sealable bag with a teaspoon of oil, and coat them all. These will cook in about 20 minutes in a very hot oven – like around 210°.

These are all the ones that made it to the table

Only around half of the cooked mussels opened, so of the two kilos I bought, I guess we ended up with around one quarter of them. Hubs and I then had a bit of a confession session: neither of us are big fans of mussels. I can’t stomach the idea of eating the whole lot of anything, like everything. I don’t like offal at all. Regardless of how small it is. And I’m not a fan of all the stringy, rubbery bits that go around the mussel, and the bits that pop out and everything. I think I like the idea of eating mussels and the sense of occasion around them, but I think I’m just not going to cook them again.
But the best news? Neither of us were ill. Result!

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