Rick Stein's Mussels with Poulette Sauce
Saint-Valery-sur-Somme is a pretty little town on the Baie de Somme, which is where William the Conqueror set out from with his fleet to invade England. It’s also famous for its rope-grown mussels (moules de bouchot), as are many places along the coast of Normandy and the Somme. With these thoughts, I enthusiastically ordered this dish at a hotel with a view right across the bay to the town of Le Crotoy. What could be a better lunch, I thought, except that the mussels were not at all great; a bit smelly, in fact. So, to restore the pleasant thoughts of sweet mussels and the cream, butter and cider of the area, here’s a recipe complete with chicken stock and a few bacon lardons for good measure.
|75g||unsmoked bacon lardons|
|2||shallots, finely chopped|
|1||fresh thyme sprig|
|2kg||mussels, scrubbed and debearded|
|225g||full-fat crème fraiche|
|juice of ¼ lemon|
|small handful flatleaf parsley, chopped|
|salt and black pepper|
Melt the butter in a pan. Add the bacon lardons and shallots and fry them over a medium heat until the shallots are soft but not coloured. Add the bay leaf, thyme and cider, then cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
Add the stock and bring to the boil, then add the mussels. Cover the pan with a lid and steam the mussels for 4–5 minutes until they’ve all opened. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mussels and set them aside to keep them warm while you finish the sauce.
Mix the crème fraiche with the egg yolk and a ladleful of the stock in a bowl. With the pan over a low to medium heat, whisk the mixture into the cooking liquid, keeping an eye on it to prevent the sauce from splitting. Don’t allow it to come to the boil. Season with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice and half the parsley.
Put the mussels back in the pan and stir to coat them in the sauce. Spoon into warmed bowls and garnish with the remaining parsley. Serve with hunks of warm bread to mop up the juices.