Rick Stein's Mussels with Poulette Sauce

For a true taste of France, make Rick Stein's simple mussels in a poulette sauce, as seen on Rick Stein's Secret France on BBC2.

Rick Stein’s Secret France
A culinary journey across France with Rick Stein
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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.

Serves 6 as a starter, 3-4 as a main


40g butter
75g unsmoked bacon lardons
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
200ml dry cider
225ml chicken stock
2kg mussels, scrubbed and debearded
225g full-fat crème fraiche
1 egg yolk
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.

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