For me moules marinière evokes memories of family summer holidays in France; prizing open the shells to reveal huge orange mussels (‘look at this one!’), using them to slurp up the creamy / sea-salty / white-winey sauce, before soaking up the remainder with baguette (or as we called it ‘knock-on-the-head-bread’).

With people’s favourite dishes there’s always a dollop of nostalgia tickling the taste buds too, but for whatever the reason this shellfish classic is really special.

2kg mussels, beards removed
100ml white wine
20g butter
3 bay leaves
8 sprigs of thyme
1 shallot finely sliced
1 leek finely sliced
1 fennel bulb finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, squashed

2 tbsp chopped parsley
100ml double cream

Preparing the mussels

  • Wash the mussels under cold water removing any beards. Discard any mussels that are open or float.
  • Drain the mussels in a colander.

Cooking the mussels

  • In a large saucepan melt the butter and sweat of the vegetables with the thyme, bay leaf and garlic until translucent but with no colour.
  • Add the wine and bring to a vigorous boil.
  • Add the mussels and cover with a lid.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes until the mussels open.
  • Stir in the cream and chopped parsley.
  • Serve in the pan, placing it at the centre of the table with bread.

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