Belgains, along with diamonds, dig their mussels. These bivalves are delicious and cheap, plentiful in the coastal areas, and make for some great comfort food when the cold wind off the North or Celtic seas is buffeting their low-lying seaside nation. Also, according to Anthony Bourdain, they’re not to be trusted when cooked by others, so you may as well learn to cook ’em at home. Bourdain notwithstanding, mussels are nearly impossible to malign once in the pot, and this recipe is really quite simple, so go out and get ya’ some.
A one pot deal, this dish makes for easy cooking, no adventurous knivesmanship, and can be completely rendered in under an hour, depending on your chop speed.
Here’s what you do:
SHALLOTS: Chop three (3) decent sized shallots roughly and place them in a heavy bottomed large cooking vessel with a cover. Dress lightly with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and cook uncovered over medium-low heat.
GARLIC: While the shallots begin to brown, chop two (2) cloves of fresh garlic and add to the pot.
WHITE WINE: After the shallots have browned slightly and you’ve added the garlic, pour about a half-bottle of dry white wine into the pot.
MUSSELS: Add a one (1) to two (2) pounds of mussels, scrubbed and debearded (your fishmonger usually does this for you, but ask to be sure) to the pot, and cover, leaving the mussels to cook for about 2 minutes, or until they’ve all opened.
TOMATO & PARSLEY: Coarsely chop two (2) tomatoes, and finely chop two (2) cups of flat-leaf parsley. Add tomato and parsley to the pot, letting cook for about a minute. Stir gently so the mixture combines.
FINALE: With a slotted spoon, scoop the mussels into bowls. After you’ve retrieved the mussels, pour the sauce into the bowls. Serve with cocktail forks, but don’t forget a spoon.
BAGUETTE: No Moules dish is complete without a nice, crusty baguette to sop up the sauce. Depending on freshness you can warm your baguette in the oven, but frites or no frites, do no forgo this crucial piece of the experience.
Scoop a mussel, tear some bread and dip, and revel in the simple warmth of this classic.
For this endeavor your will require:
2 Cloves of garlic
1 Bottle of inexpensive white wine
1-3 lbs. of mussels (more mussels = more wine, shallots)
1 Bunch of parsley
1 Crusty baguette
Something to wash it down, preferably a Belgian beer.