Yesterday I was trolling the aisles one of my favorite stores, Standard Market, when, in front of the seafood case, I had an epiphany. Just because something is expensive when served in a restaurant doesn’t necessarily mean it is inherently expensive. Case in point, mussels. Even a passing glance at either my Instagram or Twitter feeds will tell you that I love moules marinière (mussels in white wine) and I happily share lots of photos of the ones I’ve enjoyed. It is my hands down favorite thing to order in a restaurant. The thing is it tends to be a pricier option on a restaurant menu. And it had never really occurred to me that mussels weren’t a pricier choice at the market. That is where the epiphany comes in. At Standard Market Prince Edward Island mussels are $5.54 a pound and a pound is enough for an entire meal (when accompanied by a crusty loaf of bread that it is). On top of that they are super easy to make. So today instead of putting a salad together for lunch I treated myself to a steaming bowl of mussels in white wine with a few slices of a fresh baguette. The chopping was less than it would have been for a salad and the whole thing was ready in 15 minutes. My reward for this minimal amount of work was a steaming and flavorful bowl full of lovely mussels in a delicious broth.
The basic recipe for mussels in white wine uses very few ingredients which means the ingredients must be the best quality. Mussels, white wine, garlic, butter, olive oil, shallots, flat leaf parsley, fresh thyme, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. I add sometimes add saffron a la Ina Garten in her Barefoot in Paris cookbook for a twist on the classic. (I SO love that cookbook, brings me right back to my time living in Paris).
So the only decision today was whether to make the tomato/saffron version or a version with heavy cream. Today’s lunch was the tomato and saffron version. Perfect for a warm afternoon. It has inspired me to do something “out of the box” at least once a week for a special lunch. Perhaps tackle dishes which I haven’t tried yet or only ordered in restaurants.
Have you created “restaurant” style dishes at home? What restaurant favorites are on your list to try and make?
- 1 LB mussels
- pinch saffron threads
- 2 TBL. unsalted butter
- 1 TBL. olive oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ cup canned chopped tomatoes, drained
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- ⅛ cup thyme leaves
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. ground pepper
- French bread (for dipping)
- To clean mussels soak for 25 minutes in a large bowl with cool water and ⅓ cup flour
- Drain, rinse and remove "beard" (if present) Discard any which are not tightly closed
- Place saffron in a measuring cup with ⅛ cup hot water and let sit for 10-15 minutes
- In a stockpot or large saucepan heat butter and olive oil over medium heat
- Add shallots and saute until starting to soften and lighten in color
- Add garlic and cook 2-4 minutes (do not let brown)
- Add tomatoes, parsley, thyme, saffron and all it's soaking liquid, wine, salt and pepper
- Bring to a boil and let boil 2-3 minutes to burn off some of the alcohol.
- Add mussels and stir. Place cover on pot.
- Let mussels steam for 4-8 minutes (time will depend upon size)
- Shake the pot a couple of times during cooking (with lid on). Be very careful not to spill! This will keep the mussels from sticking to the bottom of the pot
- Pour into bowls and serve with sliced bread for dipping