Flexing my (Belgian) culinary mussels

Perhaps I was inspired by the tasty Classic Mussels that my friend Olga of Mango Tomato ordered as a starter at Brabo when we dropped by last week to try their new spring menu. Perhaps it was my Belgian heritage kicking in. My grandmother, after all, did grow up in the suburbs of Brussels and my father and I were both born in the Northern French city of Lille, a mere 20 kilometers from the Belgian border. Or perhaps it was the $4.99 bag of mussels I stumbled upon by chance at Whole Foods… whatever the reason was, I decided to have some classic moules-frites for dinner the other night.



Ingredients for 2-3 peoples
1 bag of mussels (approx. 2lbs), rinsed, scrubbed and bearded
2 tbsp butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Fresh thyme sprigs (4 or 5 is good)
Chopped parsley (2 to 3 tbsp)
1 cup of dry wine (Sancerre works best but Muscadet is very good too or even Pinot Grigio)
Sea salt to taste.

Mussels are pretty much the simplest dish to make. Basically, you place all the ingredients minus the parsley in a large stockpot, cover and cook over high heat for approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Throughout this cooking time, you should shake the pot occasionally to allow all the mussels a chance to soak up the flavours from the herbs and the wine. When the mussels have opened up, remove the pot from heat and discard the unopened shells as well as the thyme sprigs. Sprinkle with parsley, toss gently and divide between your bowls with all of the cooking liquid. Serve with fries and mayonnaise. I personally like Alexia Yukon Gold julienne fries with sea salt or Alexia Oven Fries with olive oil and sea salt, available at Whole Foods for around $2.50. 

Bon appétit!