Happy 102 birthday Julia Child!
Ever since I opened the first pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I don’t think I have been the same. I conquered the fragile “Cheese Souffle” and have been hooked ever since. There is an entire page dedicated to stiffening egg whites, that is how I learned how incredible passionate Julia was with cooking. From now on, I look for the “streaks and traces”. I know the steps it goes from gloppy to vibrant. Yes, you can call me the souffle Queen, thank you very much. (Total narcissism here).
However, for her birthday, I wanted to make something simple and pronounced. I love, love mussels and remember eating bowls full of mussels marinara when I was younger. They have a special seafood flavor that nothing else has and it takes me right back to my childhood. We found gorgeous fresh mussels that were begging to be eaten. 2 lbs of mussels for 2 people was nothin’ and I am craving more as I am writing this.
The beautiful thing about this dish is it’s pure simplicity Outside of cleaning and scrubbing the mussels, the entire dish is made within 10 minutes. The simple sauce of butter, wine and herbs is exquisite and begs to be slopped up with a roughly torn baguette. That is if you don’t shove the bowl in your face and drink all the juice first.
If you haven’t worked with mussels before, it’s pretty easy. Each mussel comes with a little “beard”. Pull that out (it may be a bit hard at first) and then scrub the outside of the mussel. As you’re working with them, keep them in ice cold water until you’re ready to cook. Another tip I heard about, was to add a tablespoon of flour to the water. Supposedly this helps the mussels spit out any sand that may be lodged inside them.“Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun.”- Julia Child
Yields 4 servings
Adapted from Julia Child's, Mastering the Art of French Cooking
- 2lbs mussels
- 2Tb flour
- 1/2 shallot, chopped finely
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 parsley sprigs + more for garnish
- 3 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and chopped
- 4 Tb butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Scrub each mussel and rinse well. Pull the beard off the mussel and place all cleaned mussels in a bowl filled with cold water. When all mussels are cleaned, sprinkle flour and toss gently.
- In a pot, bring the butter, shallots, wine, herbs and salt and pepper to a boil. Allow to reduce slightly (about 4-5 minutes).
- Use your hands to remove the mussels from the floury water and rinse them well in a colander. Don't pour the mussels into the colander because the collected sand could pour right back on them.
- Add the mussels and close lid on the pot. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes or until the mussels all open up. If there are any closed mussels, discard those.
- Serve the mussels in wide bowls. Use a ladle to spoon mussels in bowls first, then use the ladle to pour wine sauce over the mussels. Garnish with chopped parsley and crusty French bread.