This is a ‘Stickman Special’, my partner’s signature dish and one of the very first things he ever cooked for me when we met, many years ago. I have actually never made this myself because it’s nice to keep some things special that only he makes – I assure you that it is completely delicious! The one thing you need to be absolutely clear about is that the wine must be a crisp, dry French Muscadet as anything else really doesn’t taste as good!
You will need…
- 1/2 kilo of rope grown mussels per person
- 50g butter and a dash of sunflower oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 banana shallots, finely chopped
- 1 bottle of French Muscadet de Sèvre dry white wine – use 200ml to cook, drink the rest!
- 3 tablespoons of double cream
- Ground white pepper
- Large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- A loaf of French stick type bread
- First, clean the mussels. We only ever buy rope grown mussels (all good supermarkets stock them) because they are likely to be very clean, however, they should be used on the day they are bought because shellfish spoils very quickly. As soon as you get them home, put them in a sink of cold water. Throw away any that float to the top. Leave the cold tap running, use a small knife and scrape off all the little hairy beards and barnacles. Discard any that are broken, if any are open give them a sharp tap with a knife, if they don’t close immediately, throw them away.
- In a large pan, melt the butter and oil over a low heat and then gently cook the chopped shallot and garlic for about 5 minutes. Just let it go sweet and translucent, don’t allow them to brown!
- Drain and dry the mussels.
- Add the white wine to the pan and when it comes to the boil, tip in the mussels and cover with the lid so they can cook in the steam – this will take 4 or 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and start lifting the mussels out with a slotted spoon as they open and put them in a warm serving dish. Throw away any that didn’t open during the cooking process.
- Reduce the sauce that’s left and then reduce the heat, stir in the cream and the parsley. Pour it into a serving jug.
- Get everyone to the table and ready to eat. Sprinkle the mussels in the serving bowl with some parsley, cut the French bread into small rounds for soaking up the lovely sauce. Give everyone their own bowl to help themselves to mussels and sauce and provide a large, spare bowl for the empty shells and lots of napkins. Serve the remaining wine with this and expect to eat without much conversation – this is a meal that everyone loves to completely get into!