This is usually served as a starter, but it also makes a great main course (see p. 34).

Ingredients

For the Butter

  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened

For the Mussel Cooking Liquor

  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 small leek, chopped
  • 15 g (½ oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • ½ bottle dry white wine
  • 600 ml (1 pint) Fish Stock
  • 1 kg ( lb) mussels, scrubbed and bearded (see previous recipe)

For the Garnish

  • 50 g (2 oz) nibbed almonds, lightly toasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 slices white bread, crusts removed, crumbed and toasted until golden

Method

Sweat the chopped shallots and garlic in 1 tablespoon of the butter until translucent, then leave to cool. Mix them with most of the remaining butter and keep aside for later.

To start the mussel liquor, sweat the chopped onion, carrot, celery and leek in the butter with the garlic, bay leaf and thyme for a few minutes. Add the white wine and boil to reduce until almost dry. Add the fish stock and bring to the boil, then add the mussels. Stir until the shells begin to open, then remove from the heat.

Strain the cooking liquor through a fine sieve and discard the vegetables. Remove the mussels from their shells, discarding any that have not opened, and remove any sinews from the mussels. Keep them moist in a little of the stock. Rinse the shells.

Boil the liquor to reduce it until a good mussel flavour is achieved, then gradually add the shallot and garlic butter in knobs. Add the mussels, toasted almonds and parsley. Place some of the shells in a circle on large individual bowls or plates. Spoon the mussels into the shells and pour over some of the cooking liquor. To finish the dish, sprinkle with the warm, golden toasted breadcrumbs.

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