This classic bistro dish is a wonderful way to enjoy mussels. The French would generally use a basic white vin de table, but I think it tastes particularly good with Muscadet.
1 kg fresh mussels
3 tbsp light olive oil or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100ml Muscadet or other crisp dry white wine
3 heaped tbsp freshly chopped parsley
To serve, your choice of…
chips and mayonnaise, crusty bread
Tip the mussels into a sink full of cold water and give them a good swirl. Drain off the water, fill up the sink again and swirl the mussels once more. Discard any mussels that are open. Using a small, sharp knife, remove the hairy “beards”. Transfer the cleaned mussels to a large bowl of fresh, cold water.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or deep casserole, add the chopped onion and cook over low heat for 5-6 minutes until beginning to soften. Stir in the garlic, pour in the wine, then increase the heat and bring to the boil.
Drain the mussels and tip them into the pan. Turn them over in the sauce, cover the pan and cook over high heat for 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Remove the lid and check the mussels are open. If not, cover and cook for 1 minute more. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened, then sprinkle over the parsley.
Serve immediately in deep bowls accompanied by chips and mayonnaise (wickedly delicious) or crusty bread.
What to drink
The remaining Muscadet would go well, or use any simple, carafe-style French white.
Extracted from Wine Lover’s Kitchen by Fiona Beckett (Ryland Peters & Small, approx €19). Photography by Mowie Kay © Ryland Peters & Small.