Monday, June 18, 2018
Cooking

Escape to taste of France with Julia Child's mussels simmered in wine

Every time we have Moules à La Marinière for dinner it feels so elegant. As if we are in France, eating mussels very much the way Julia and Paul Child would have. The recipe comes, of course, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

In Julia Child's masterpiece of a cookbook, she dedicates several pages to mussels, starting with this simple and fresh preparation. Mussels are steamed for a few minutes with wine, shallots, parsley, thyme and butter. The buttery, herbal sauce infused with the juices of mussels at the bottom of the pot — you'll need a spoon and plenty of bread for that.

In her ode to moules, Julia says: "Mussels, with their long, oval, blue-black shells and delicious pink-orange flesh are often called the poor man's oyster." And yet, it always feels quite luxurious when we make these. If you asked me how many times I'd served either at home, well, it's mussels 5, oysters 0.

Her recipe serves six to eight, but we cut it down for two. We used 2 pounds of mussels at $3.99 a pound. Not bad. And the guys working behind the seafood counter are always the chattiest, so there's that.

After some chopping and preparing, it's just a few minutes before dinner is ready. Child recommends soaking the mussels for quite a while before cooking, and we've done this before. We even tried adding a bit of flour to the soaking water, hoping the mussels would eat and fatten up just a bit more, but now I skip the soaking step. Most mussels you'll find at a grocery store are farm-raised, and they're not carrying as much grit as Child's mussels would have. Just rinse them under cool running water.

There is the matter of debearding the mussels. Not a big deal. Wrestling with the mussels is kind of fun. Wipe down a mussel and find the brown tuft of hairs sticking out one side. Tug firmly and yank off the beard. Some are bigger than others. If the mussel isn't giving it up, use a paper towel for a better grip.

Let's not forget the wine. I prefer a muscadet as it's a classic pairing with shellfish, and it's my favorite white wine at the moment. The taste is clean and crisp, and it's what I prefer to cook the mussels in, too.

Pick up the wine and mussels on your way home, and you're halfway there. This is good enough for the weekend but entirely reasonable on a weeknight. I'm not spending tonight in the South of France, and I don't think you are either, but serve this dinner on the patio and it's not hard to pretend.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, . She can be reached at [email protected]

   
Comments
Taste test: Chocolate chip cookies

Taste test: Chocolate chip cookies

When we started seeing ads for Nestle Toll House cookies already baked and prepackaged, I knew it was time for our tasters to get involved. They are cookie lovers, and one even has his own cookiemaking business. We found the Nestle brand and had hope...
Published: 06/18/18
Take grilled potatoes to another level with garlic and rosemary

Take grilled potatoes to another level with garlic and rosemary

By AMERICAíS TEST KITCHENGrilled potatoes are a summer classic. We wanted to put a new spin on this dish by adding rosemary and garlic. Unfortunately, we found it was difficult to add enough flavor to plain grilled potatoes. Coating the potatoes with...
Published: 06/13/18
Recipe for Stuffed Beef Burgers

Recipe for Stuffed Beef Burgers

Hidden inside these tame-looking burgers is a smoky and spicy blend of bacon, chipotle, cheese and something unexpected: pepperoni. Because the ground beef part of these burgers is patted fairly thin, thereís less of a chance youíll undercook it. For...
Published: 06/13/18
How to cook eggs for dinner: shakshuka, carbonara and more

How to cook eggs for dinner: shakshuka, carbonara and more

Eggs are an underutilized dinner ingredient. Aside from fried rice and a breakfast-for-dinner situation, I rarely use eggs in my cooking past the hour of 4 p.m. It makes no sense. Eggs are a great source of protein, able to be cooked in myriad ways, ...
Published: 06/12/18
Add some sweet heat to your cookout with these jerk chicken skewers

Add some sweet heat to your cookout with these jerk chicken skewers

By Matt BrooksBurgers and dogs may be the traditional staples of a cookout, but when youíre craving something more than meat on bun, a well-assembled skewer is a colorful showstopper on the grill.Itís scientifically proven that food tastes better whe...
Published: 06/12/18
Taste test: ballpark peanuts

Taste test: ballpark peanuts

For a time when my children were growing up, I thought I would spend purgatory sitting on a ballpark bleacher. Now, I cherish those days of watching my son and daughter play baseball and softball. I also have enjoyed my share of shelled peanuts. Noth...
Published: 06/11/18
Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: Ďdraggedí

Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: Ďdraggedí

By KATIE WORKMANOne of the amazing things about Italian food is that the best dishes are often so completely, refreshingly simple. Like, four-ingredient simple. (We donít count olive oil and salt. Or water. Or air.) I love broccoli. I can roast brocc...
Published: 06/08/18
Honey laundering: Honey may be one of the nationís most fraudulent foods

Honey laundering: Honey may be one of the nationís most fraudulent foods

Fifteen years ago, Hackenberg Apiaries, with hives in Pennsylvania and Florida, produced 300 barrels of honey a year. According to Davey Hackenberg, that number dipped to 80 barrels two years ago and 40 last year. Nationwide, many beekeepers report t...
Published: 06/06/18
Updated: 06/11/18
Four weeknight pastas with sauces that come together fast

Four weeknight pastas with sauces that come together fast

By Domenica Marchetti For pasta lovers like me, Sundays are for long-simmered ragus and, when Iím feeling really ambitious, homemade noodles. For the rest of the week, thankfully, there are boxed pastas and pantry sauces I can pull together in about ...
Published: 06/06/18
These grab-and-go meal prep standbys make assembling salads a cinch

These grab-and-go meal prep standbys make assembling salads a cinch

You meal prep long enough, and you realize there are just some things youíre never going to do. Iím never going to successfully make full lunches for every day of the workweek, tidily assembled in their own containers. For one thing, itís a lot of wo...
Published: 06/05/18
Updated: 06/07/18