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Moules Marinière (Mussels Mariner-Style)

The storming of the prison or Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789 sparked the French Revolution, and that event is widely recognized as the beginning of the end of the monarchy. Le quatorze juillet (14 July)—or Bastille Day as we say in English—is a public holiday celebrated with outdoor festivals in many cities worldwide. Along with the music and dancing, great French food and wine are a major part of the merriment.

Join the fun this year by preparing a great recipe from the chefs at The Culinary Institute of America. Moules Marinière, or Mussels Mariner-Style, is a delicious dish that is best served with some crusty French bread to sop up the sumptuous juice.

"For a main course, serve the mussels with pommes frites (French fries) and mayonnaise on the side in the manner served at many a roadside stand in France," says Chef Alain DeCoster. "This recipe uses the strong clean flavor of flat-leaf parsley to lend a structural backbone to the rest of the flavors in the pot."

When preparing the following recipe, you can pour out glasses of whatever dry white wine you cooked the mussels in. Or, if you finished the bottle while you were cooking, celebrate the holiday as they do in France by opening a bottle of champagne. Bon appétit!

These and more recipes are explained and illustrated in The Culinary Institute of America'sBistros and Brasseries (2008, Lebhar Friedman) cookbook.

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Ingredients

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer, 3 to 4 as a main course (if served with fries)

  • 3 pounds mussels
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup very dry white wine
  • Pepper as needed

Directions

  1. Just before you are ready to cook the dish, wash the mussels under cold running water and remove the "beards," which are the fibrous connectors protruding from between the bivalves' shells.
  2. Heat large pot over medium-high heat. Be sure to use a pot (with a cover) that is large enough to easily hold all of the mussels; you'll want to give them at least one big stir during cooking. Melt the butter in the pot and wait for the foam to subside. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook until they're fragrant and translucent, 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  3. Add the parsley, give it one stir, turn the heat to high, and add the mussels to the pot. Stir the mussels once with a large wooden spoon, remove the pot from the flame, and add the wine. Return the pot to the flame, cover, and reduce the heat to medium, shaking the pot occasionally.
  4. After 4 minutes, check if any mussels have opened. If only a few have opened, cover the pot again and turn up the heat. If most of them are open, remove them to warmed bowls and cover the pot again to let the last few open. After 1 more minute, transfer the remaining open mussels to the bowls. (The unopened mussels are either dead or stubborn. If stubborn, the cook gets to eat them later after they've opened, but if they're dead, toss them.)
  5. Decant the cooking juices to remove the grit at the bottom of the pot. To make this step easier, set the pot so that it is tilted enough to make the liquid settle on one side. After it sits for a minute or two, the grit will settle to the bottom of the pot. Pour the flavorful broth carefully out of the pot, but stop as soon as you see the grit starting to make its way close to the edge. Season the sauce with pepper as needed, and pour it over the mussels. Serve immediately, making sure each person has a place to put his or her spent shells.
Nutrition analysis with tomato per 7-ounce serving: 190 calories, 21g protein, 8g carbohydrate, 7g fat, 490mg sodium, 55mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.

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