moules marinière with cider


A really delicious dish of Scottish mussels cooked with cider, shallots, garlic and cream is this week’s recipe. I am sure you will all have heard of moules marinière – it’s been a bistro staple across most of Europe for as long as anyone can remember. That said, it doesn’t mean it is not worth re-visiting and trying out some different tweaks and twists – sometimes you find a simple change can yield great results.

Mussels themselves can take strong punchy flavours, a fresh, zingy, spicy Thai broth with coconut milk and lemongrass or another favourite way to eat them is cooked in a rich tomato and chorizo sauce flavoured with chilli and smoked paprika.

I have not strayed as far as Thailand or southern Spain for this simple dish. The only real change I have made to this classic preparation is to steam the mussels in Normandy cider, as opposed to dry white wine, giving a subtly different flavour to the end broth – cider pairs very well with the smell of the sea that you get from freshly steamed mussels. You can further enhance this marriage of flavours by adding some Calvados, a strong apple brandy made only in Normandy to the sauce.

Serve in large bowls with hunks of fresh crusty bread to mop up the tasty broth. Enjoy.

The Method

serves 4

1.5kg mussels
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 shallots, finely chopped
20g butter
small bunch of parsley, chopped
100ml cider
120ml double cream
crusty bread

1. Wash the mussels under cold, running water. Discard any open ones that won’t close when lightly tapped.
2. Pull out the tough, beards that sick out from between the tightly closed shells, then remove any barnacles from the outer shell. Give the mussels another rinse to remove any loose pieces of shell.
3. Sweat the garlic and shallots in the butter in a pan big enough to take all the mussels – it should only be half full.
4. Add the mussels and cider, turn up the heat then cover and steam them open in their own juices for 3-4 minutes giving the pan a good shake every now and then.
5. Add the cream and chopped parsley and remove from the heat.
6. Spoon into four large serving bowls and serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up all the sauce.