We love mussels. During our first trip to Paris, we went to one particular restaurant named La Tête d’Or in the 1st arrondissement several times, for one very good reason – can you guess? On the first visit, I ordered the moules marinières expecting the usual 10 or so mussels normally served when I’ve ordered them at home. A short time after placing our order, the waitress emerged from the kitchen with the largest bowl of mussels I’d ever seen. It was a huge salad-bowl-sized bowl, and I wondered who had ordered it because I wanted to see the look on their face when they were served this feast. Quickly I realized she was headed right for me. She placed it in front of me with a big smile, a wink and a “bon appétit” and I said “merci” way more times than I should have. These mussels were beautiful and simply presented, steamed just until opened in a fragrant garlic and wine broth that overwhelmed both of us at the table. This, plus bread, plus wine… well you get the point.
Paul made this gorgeous version at home, Mussels with Saffron and Mustard, using Thomas Keller’s recipe in his book Bouchon.
Mussels with Saffron and Mustard – Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller’s recipe in Bouchon
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, salt and white pepper, reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the mustard and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a minute or two, then add the saffron, cover the pot, and remove from the heat. Let the broth steep for at least 5 minutes.
Rinse the mussels under cold water; scrub clean and pull off and discard any beards. Bring the broth to a simmer over high heat. Add the mussels and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the mussels have opened. Toss the mussels with the parsley and some ground black pepper. Serve immediately (or sooner if possible).