Mussels in Cider
The Whale Wins, Seattle
In Blainville-sur-Mer, a tiny town on Normandy’s Cotentin Peninsula, there’s a quirky little restaurant called La Cale, whose official street address is “La Plage,” or, simply, “the beach.” When you order mussels there, they come in the pot they were cooked in, steamed in cider and topped with a generous dollop of crème fraîche, which whoever has thought to grab a ladle gets to stir into them just before serving. This recipe is similar. And as you do at La Cale, you should eat a small mussel first, then use its shell as a utensil to pry the mussels out of the remaining shells.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 cups dry hard cider
- 3 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, for seasoning
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 cup loosely packed whole tarragon leaves (no stems)
- Crusty bread, for serving
In a large, high-sided saucepan or soup pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the shallots and cook, stirring, until the shallots are soft, about 5 minutes.
Whisk in the mustard, add the cider, then increase the heat to medium-high. Add the mussels and cook, covered, until they begin to open, about 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and begin transferring the mussels that have cooked to a large bowl, stirring and prodding until all the mussels have opened and have been transferred to the bowl. (Discard any mussels that do not open.)
Increase the heat to high and simmer the cider for 3 minutes, or until it has reduced by about a third. Season the liquid to taste with lemon juice and salt, then reduce the heat to low.
Return the mussels to the pot, add the crème fraîche and tarragon, and stir gently until the mussels are warmed through and coated with the cream. Serve immediately, with the bread.
(c)2014 By Renee Erickson with Jess Thomson. All rights reserved. Excerpted from A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus: Menus and Stories by permission of Sasquatch Books.