“What’s for dinner tonight?” Almost every day, I hear this question at least two or three times- from my husband, from my co-workers, from myself. And let me tell you something. I am very,very tired of answering, “Chicken.” No thank you. I’m over it. Chicken is great and all, but in the past few weeks, we have eaten
more chicken than you can shake a drumstick at a lot of chicken. (Sorry, it’s been a long week and I’m feeling hilarious. I’ll stop now.) We’ve had roast chicken, coq au vin, homemade Buffalo wings… oh, and the stock.
I have this little problem where I can’t throw out a chicken bone to save my life. If we eat roast chicken for dinner, I’ll be making stock the next day. Wing tips from those wings? Stock again. Just the thought of throwing away all those good chicken parts makes me feel a little… nervous. So I just keep making stock. But the flip side of that is that I now have about 5 gallons of homemade chicken stock in my freezer, and it turns out I just don’t use chicken stock that much. Not enough to justify my stock-making habit anyway.
Where was I? Oh yeah, so no more chicken for a while. All of a sudden this whole dinner question gets a whole lot more interesting. So yesterday, the answer to this boring, yet evocative question was… get ready for it… “Mussels!” More specifically, Moules Marinière. Yep, it’s French. And it’s not chicken. That’ll do.
I can already imagine you coming up with reasons in your head why you couldn’t ever make this for dinner on a Wednesday. Bear with me here. This recipe is about as easy as it gets. Once you’ve stopped by the fish counter and bought your mussels, you are officially halfway there. I could go on about how easy they are, but no one can simplify something scary-sounding like Julia. Her recipe for mussels is the best- not only because it’s delicious, but because after reading the recipe, you are confident that you can do it. And you can. Give it a try; I promise you won’t be disappointed.
It literally just occurred to me that I should have saved the shells for fish stock… sometimes I scare myself.
Recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
In the process of making this, I really, really had to fight the urge to add lots of garlic. I wanted to just give it a try in it’s pure form. I think next time I’ll add a TB or two of minced garlic, because… well, I like garlic. But it’s perfectly delicious without it. All you need to make this a meal is a crusty baguette and maybe a green salad. Oh, and the rest of that bottle of wine.
2 cups light, dry white wine or 1 cup dry white vermouth
An 8- to 10-quart enameled kettle with cover, though I’ve made this in many other pots successfully
1/2 cup minced shallots, or green onions, or very finely minced onions
8 parsley sprigs
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons butter
6 quarts scrubbed, soaked mussels
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
Bring all but the last two ingredients to boil in the kettle. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate its alcohol and to reduce its volume slightly.
Add the mussels to the kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. Frequently grasp the kettle with both hands, your thumbs clamped to the cover, and toss the mussels in the kettle and an up and down slightly jerky motion so the mussels will change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes, the shells will swing open and the mussels are done.
With a big skimmer, dip the mussels into wide soup places. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.