Moules au Beurre d’Amande

Mussels with Almond Butter

Possibly the worst crime committed against a mussel is to overcook it; they should be meltingly tender. Here the almond butter provides all the sauce they need.

Ingredients

  • 450 g(1 lb) mussels
  • ½ wineglass dry white wine
  • 2 slices onion
  • a few stalks of parsley
  • a bay leaf
  • 70 g( oz) whole blanched almonds
  • 70 g( oz) butter, softened
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • salt

Method

Scrub the mussels under cold running water, knock off any small limpets and remove the beard of threads. Discard any mussels that do not close as you clean them and any that are unnaturally heavy – they may contain mud or sand. Drain the mussels in a colander.

Pour the wine and ½ wineglass water into your largest pan, and add the onion, parsley stalks and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the mussels and cover. Shake the pan over the heat for 1 minute; then remove from the heat and leave, covered, for 5 minutes, to allow the mussels to open in the steam.

Meanwhile toast the almonds under a high grill until just turning colour, and chop them fairly finely in a processor or blender. Tip two thirds of them into a bowl; grind the remainder to a fine powder and add to the rest. Work in the softened butter and mix with the lemon juice and parsley until soft and spreadable.

Discard one of the shells from each opened mussel and spread a little almond butter over the cooked mussel in the other shell. Arrange the mussels in one large or four small oven dishes.

Place in a moderately hot oven (Mark 6, 200°C, 400°F) for 4–5 minutes until the butter is melting and the mussels are really hot. Serve straight away with French bread.

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