Coastal living makes me say “hello seafood.” My rule with cooking seafood is the simpler, the better; as well as believing in keeping it as local as possible. The classical way I learned to cook mussels years ago a la Moules Marinières, or mussels in the style of the sea, synonymous with summers in France. I have prepared many versions versions of this style all with success, key to the recipe is freshness.
These mussels were sourced and cooked within 2 hours of harvest. Walk don’t run!
Chef George Hirsch Mussels Provencale
Makes four servings
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2 pounds mussels, cleaned and remove beard
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves fresh garlic, pealed and chopped
1/4 sweet white onion, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
1 sprig fresh thyme
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, washes & chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 ripe tomato, cut into small pieces
Preheat a large sauce pot, large enough to hold the mussels. Add olive oil, garlic, onion, and hot pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add mussels and white wine. Cover pot and cook until mussels open, about 4-5 minutes. Shake pot to mix up mussels.
Remove mussels with a slotted skimmer, leaving all the juice in pot. Add parsley, basil, and tomatoes. Bring mussel juice to a boil and reduce juice by half.
Caution to not over cook the mussels because they will become dry and rubbery. Remember to discard any that do not open as this indicates that the mussel was dead and will most likely be spoiled.
George Hirsch Mussels Provencale with Dipping Sauce
Good tip: The jewel in eating mussels is to get the right balance of the mussel meat with the fantastic broth juices that come from cooking the mussels with wine, garlic and herbs. No utensils needed, use the mussel's shell as your spoon. Pick up the freshly steamed mussel in the opened hinged ‘valve’ (the shell). Break the valve in-half, discard one half of the shell. With the second half valve (shell) that now has the mussel meat, dip the half-shell and mussel meat into the warm broth scooping up just the right amount of juice to meat. Now, politely slurp the mussel along with the broth in the same mouthful. Mouth watering. Heaven! Sometimes I see others do a dip using a fork, but they are missing the gold, the broth!
Try this next time you prepare mussels, instead of using a fork and dipping into the broth that will just slide off your mussel meat. What to do with empty shells? I have observed other connoisseurs of mussel eating that includes arranging the eaten empty half valves into unique patterns on plates.
Simple and ready in minutes. But do yourself a favor, have plenty of good bread on hand to dip and soak up any leftover broth. Summer - here we come!