The key to this recipe is to end up with a sauce that is thicker than water and contains big flavors though not so much as to overpower the mussels. Thus, the reduced wine adds flavor not more liquid; similarly the heavy cream instead of half & half or milk. The final trick that prevents this from being too thick is adding the mussels and covering the pan. As they cook, the mussels release their juices and this keeps the sauce at the correct consistency and intensifies the flavours, once you perform the final stir. The combination of ocean air with smokiness and oak transcends the sublime. (Excellent with Caesar salad and more of the same wine used for cooking.)
- Portion size 8 servings
- Credits : Bill Oehler Oehler
- 500 mL whipping cream 35%
- 1 750 ml bottle chardonnay
- 4 strips bacon coarsely chopped, or 30 ml rendered bacon fat
- 2 kilos mussels
- 2 white onions diced
- 6 garlic diced
- 30 mL all purpose flour
- 125 mL Parmesan cheese grated
- 125 mL fresh parsley diced
- 125 mL chervil diced
- 2 loaves French bread
- 2 loaves baguettes
Method1. Pour wine into a large skillet over medium heat and simmer until volume is reduced to 250 ml. To retain maximum flavor of the wine, heat at the lowest possible temperature that maintains a simmer. Set aside.
2. If you do not have rendered bacon fat, place chopped bacon in small skillet over medium heat initially and reduce heat to low once bacon starts to sizzle. Cook until bacon is crisp and most fat has been rendered. Remove crisped bacon with slotted spoon and save for another use and set rendered fat, with brownings, aside in small bowl.
3. Wash mussels in large bowl using cold water, scrubbing vigorously with brush and change water several times, de-beard mussels, and discard any that are cracked or open. Some open ones are still alive and will close with the scrubbing, so make your decision after scrubbing, not before. If they don't close, they are dead and must be discarded. Drain and set aside.
4. Melt rendered bacon fat over medium heat in a very large pan that has a lid (i.e., soup pot, saucier pan, roaster pan, etc). Do not let fat smoke.
5. Add onions to bacon fat, stir frequently, and cook for approximately 5-10 min. depending upon your preference. If you cook to the minimum, onions will stay white, while to the maximum time they will start to turn brown. Each flavor is good but different.
6. Add garlic and cook for 30 sec.
7. Stir in flour with wooden spoon until it is combined thoroughly.
8. Add cream, then parmesan and continue cooking on medium heat until the mixture starts to boil.
9. Add reduced wine and stir until combined thoroughly.
10. Add mussels, stir in thoroughly, turn heat to high, and when liquid starts to boil cover for 2-3 minutes, but no more, as they will toughen.
11. Remove lid, stir thoroughly, remove all mussels that remain closed (they are dead and must not be eaten), add parsley and stir once more.
12. Serve immediately in large communal bowl, with sliced bread on the side.