Shetland Mussels, Garlic, White Wine, Crème Fraiche
The cool, pristine waters that surround the Shetland Isles are an ideal habitat for growing blue mussels (mytilis edulis). Mussels harvested in Shetland are grown on ropes, ensuring the mussels never come into contact with the seabed so they don’t ingest any sand or grit, resulting in a lovely clean product.
The strong tidal currents around Shetland’s coves, where the mussels are grown, provide an abundant food supply full of natural goodness for the mussels giving the meat a magnificent flavour.
Moules marinières is a dish that originates from northwest France and its success lies in its use of quality ingredients. The essentials are shallots and/or onions cooked to a nonexistent softness in an abundance of butter, an acidic seasoning of sharp wine, lashings of parsley and a flourish of cream or crème fraiche. A small knob of beurre manié gives a little extra body without the need to reduce the liquid too far, which would result in an overly intense salinity.
Mussels cooked this way are traditionally served in deep soup bowls with home-made frites and mayonnaise or lots of crusty bread.
Ingredients: serves 2 as a starter
1 Kg Mussels
75g Unsalted butter
2 Banana shallots, finely chopped
Bouquet d’ garni – Bay leaf, 3 sprigs of thyme, 1 handful fresh parsley stalks, with leaves reserved and chopped, to garnish
150ml White wine
1 tbsp Beurre manié (2 tsp of soft butter and 1 heaped tsp plain flour mashed to a smooth paste)
2 tbsp Freshly chopped parsley,
100ml Crème fraiche
1. Using the back of a small knife scrape off any loose debris from the exterior of the shells and tug out the beard (this is the little hairy bit of string that hangs from the closed mussel). Discard open mussels and those that don’t close while being prepared. Wash under running cold water and set aside in a colander.
2. Melt butter in a large, heavy pan. Add the chopped shallot, bouquet d’ garni, season with black pepper, cover and cook gently for at least 10 – 15 minutes or until the shallots are completely soft. Add the wine and simmer for five minutes to reduce the wine volume by half.
3. Add the mussels, cover and cook on a medium heat for five to ten minutes to steam all the mussels open. Lift out the mussels with a slotted spoon and transfer to a hot serving tureen or a pair of bowls. Keep warm. Turn up the heat of the mussel pan and, when the wine-mussel liquid is boiling, whisk in the beurre manié, add cream and cook briskly for two minutes. Add the parsley, and then spoon the mixture over the mussels.
4. Garnish with a little more chopped parsley, serve immediately.