Friday, April 24, 2015

East Coast Style Mussels Mariner

     Old School East Coast Fish House Restaurant Style Mussels Mariner!
     I noticed that there are many Mussels Marinière recipes on the internet.  Many of the recipes are made with personal taste and extra ingredients are used in the recipe.  When extra ingredients are added to a traditional recipe, the modification has to be noted in the name of the recipe.  Otherwise confusion can occur, especially if a reader is learning classic French cuisine.
     The classic Mussels Marinière recipe was standardized by both Escoffier and Larousse over 100 years ago.  It is supposed to be a very simple French recipe with no variation for a good reason.  Classic Mussels Marinière actually is used to create many other traditional French recipes.  
     Moules Poulette is a good example of a secondary French mussels recipe that calls for classic Mussels Marinière to be made as one of many components of the Moules Poulette preparation.  If the Mussels Marinière is made exactly how it is supposed to be, then the Moules Poulette will turn out as it should be. 

     Classic French Mussels Marinière is popular at established old American seafood restaurants and yacht clubs.  The original French recipe is so simple, that many over zealous chefs miss the mark.  Gourmand customers expect to taste mussels with mussel broth and not much of anything else when they order classic Mussels Marinière.  The original French recipe calls for no cream and only broth flavors the mussels.
     There is a American style version of the classic French Mussels Marinière recipe.  The American version usually is spelled in plain English instead of French.  Mussels Mariner sounds as simple as it gets, so the theme of the recipe follows suit.  Classic American Mussels Mariner also is a very simple recipe.
     Classic American Mussels Mariner was a popular item at seafood restaurants along the east coast seaboard.  I worked in many old time seafood restaurants early in my career and when Blue Mussel harvests were readily available, we ran Mussels Mariner on the daily special board.  The American style Mussels Mariner sold like hotcakes every time!
     Classic American seafood house restaurant style Mussels Mariner is the same as the classic French Mussels Marinière recipe, but it is finished with whole milk or cream.  That is the only difference!
     Why complicate perfection?  The simpler, the better, does apply to the old time American Mussels Mariner recipe too.  Even with the addition of dairy products, the American style Mussels Mariner recipe is far from being complicated.  The end result is simply delicious!
     East Coast Style Mussels Mariner:
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer size portion.
     Step 1:  Soak 12 to 14 large Blue Mussels in salted water with corn meal for about 15 minutes.  (This will cause the mussels to expel any sand inside the shell.)
     Clean and debeard the Blue Mussels.
     Rinse the mussels with fresh water.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add the mussels.
     Sauté and shake the pan for 30 seconds.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 cup of fumet.  (Fumet is clear whitefish broth.)
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Cover the pan with a lid.
     Poach the mussels in the boiling liquid for 1 minute, till the shells start to open up.
     Step 4:  Remove the lid.
     Inspect and discard any dead mussel shells that did not open up.
     Step 5:  Add 1 cup of l milk.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Bring the broth back to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg. 
     Simmer and reduce the cream broth for 3 to 4 minutes, till the flavor becomes rich.  (The mussels should be fully open by now.)
     Step 7:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Arrange the mussels in a shallow soup bowl so the look nice.
     Pour the broth over the mussels.
     Serve with sliced French baguette bread and a soup spoon.
     Mussels Mariner is a throwback to the good old days of east coast fine dining seafood restaurants!

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