After months of waiting, the bouchot mussels are back! Bouchot mussels are the best money can buy in France. They are not very big (about an inch) but they are VERY tasty. The name comes from the wooden posts (bouchots in French) they grow on. These posts are made of oak or chestnut and can be found all along the Atlantic coast. The largest production areas are the Mont Saint Michel Bay and l’Ile-de-ré. We all wait for this time of year to eat them. They are not available before the end of June anyway. You may find some, but they’d be small and not very “full” inside. We’ve had a very rainy Spring and the sun only really came out last week. The mussels will get meatier in the coming weeks as a result of it.
Properly cooked, mussels are probably the easiest kind of seafood to prepare. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t love them… They are a healthy and cheap option for the Summer months.
For 4 people as an appetizer:
- Brown some slices of bacon, chorizo and chopped shallots in butter. About two small fistfuls of each (my sister adds green and red peppers). Make sure everything is thinly chopped so these ingredients get into each mussel.
- Add a glass of dry white wine or a small bottle of blond beer and 5 pounds of mussels.
- Cover and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. All the mussels must open. You will have stirred your mussels two or three times during cooking and added a fistful of fresh persillade (chopped garlic and parsley – the proportions for my persillade: 4 large cloves of garlic for 1 bunch of parsley).
- Add a little cream if you want. Butter always feels lonely without cream!
- Season (salt, pepper and Piment d’Espelette) to taste
Serve with French fries of course and a dry white or ice cold beer in an ice cold glass :0)
Note: mussels, like all crustaceans, are very sensitive and can make you very sick if they are not extremely fresh. In addition to a healthy fresh smell, it is imperative to put them in a cold water bath before using them and throw away ALL those that float on the surface and those that may seem a bit light. My fishmonger makes fun of me when I tell him I do this, but I’d rather be the butt of his jokes than dead! He only goes by the smell. He says (and I confirm) that one can smell a bad mussel from a mile away… Fresh mussels are ALWAYS tightly shut.
If you have some left overs (you won’t) take the mussels out of the shells and freeze them with the broth. It will be the perfect starting point for a nice soup or gumbo later!