Take a moment. Close your eyes, relax and breathe then imagine a pot of steaming mussels. visualise the large stainless steel pot bathed in butter, shallots, a generous splash of Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie and a handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.The unmistakable aroma of those classic ingredients entwined with the fresh perfume of the sea which evaporates as each of the mussels open. Take a moment and breathe it in and then tell me it isn't one of the most heavenly smells on earth.
Since we launched our Moules Night in August 2014, our guests have consumed over 390kg of mussels. The mussels are most definitely the star of the show and their flavour, creaminess and large size speak for themselves. Each week we drive the three hour round trip to pick up our mussels from award-winning fishmonger Veasey and Sons, who source the magnificent, Cornish rope grown blue mussels from Porthill, Cornwall. The Mussels are farmed in a sustainable way ensuring that they grow and fatten rapidly, taking between 16-24 months to reach maturity. Once sorted through for edible sizes, the mussels are purified before being ready to eat and when we pick them up from Veasey and Sons they are clean and incredibly easy to work with.
We serve mussels in various different sauces at our events and although Marinière and Normandy remain our most ordered dishes, Moules Provençal is pretty high up on the list. A combination of rich, Côtes de Provence wine, chopped tomatoes and a selection of herbs from the region simmered gently.
If you're thinking this all sounds a bit heavy for shellfish, think again.
Once you release the mussels into the Provençal-style broth and they begin to open and release their juices the broth will take on a whole different dimension and you'll want to mop up every last drop with a hunk of crusty baguette. We've popped a couple of important reminders about working with mussels in the notes section of the recipe card. Bon Appetite !
4 kg mussels
A glug of olive oil
2 shallots finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bottle of red wine ( use something light like a merlot)
1kg of chopped fresh tomatoes
A couple of sprigs of fresh oregano, finely chopped
A couple of sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
A couple of sprigs of marjoram finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large heavy based pan, heat some oil oil and gently sauté the shallots and garlic for about 5 until they are softened.
Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and wine and simmer for 10 minutes
Add the mussels and stir. Cover with a lid and shake occasionally for a further 6-8 minutes or until the mussels open.
Stir in some freshly chopped parsley and ladle the mussels into the bowls and serve with crispy frites or crusty bread
When you're cleaning your mussels, remove the beards and any barnacles and discard any mussels which are open. They are dead. Make sure your dining guests know that when they find closed mussels in their bowl not to try and prize them open, they are not to be eaten !