French Bistro at Home – Moules Poulettes

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There is nothing that reminds me more of a French Bistro than a big order of moules-frites! When my mom used to live in Montreal, a stop at the famous Bernard Street La Moulerie was often on the agenda. Sadly, I hear the restaurant is no longer and I only hope it was because the owners had to retire! La Moulerie was definitely an institution in Outremont for decades. My favorite mussel flavour is the traditional “Poulette” however, I can eat mussels with pretty much any sauce. They are so easy to prepare and so affordable. Every time I cook these delicate molluscs,  I wonder why I do not make these more often. Oh, I remember why: seems it is “tolerate”, not loved,  by the testosterone clan in my household. Maybe it is time I indulge the cook more often lol! A few weeks ago, I had 14 guests for an Al Fresco dinner at the cottage. It was a huge crowd pleaser and quite frankly, it took no time at all to whip up several batches of hot steamy mussels. I don’t do frites at home but paired with crusty bread, a green leafy salad and finished with a cheese platter, this meal was simply exquisite! A perfect setting worthy of a magazine layout: a warm summer evening, long tables on the deck overlooking White Lake, white china and real wine glasses, candles, great wines and great friends… The French Bistro way Oh La La!

What you need for Moules Poulettes

  • a couple of pounds of PEI mussels
  • 2-3 french shallots thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped not crushed
  • good olive oil and good butter, a generous tablespoon of each plus an extra of butter to finish the dish
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white wine (to your taste)
  • freshly chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

Rinse mussels under cold tap water and discard the ones that are cracked or do not close when tapped on gently. You may want to look for «beard» (fuzzy stuff sticking out of the shells) and simply remove by pulling on it. PEI cultured mussels do not have a lot of beard and require very little prep work.

In a large pot heat butter and oil over med-high heat until the butter starts to foam slightly. Add shallots and stir until soft. Add garlic and cook slightly but do not brown. This step will take no time at all. Add the white wine and let bubble up for a few minutes to reduce slightly. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Add the mussels to the pot, stir to coat well and place a lid on it. Cook for about 5 minutes. Peek under the lid: if the mussels are opened well, it means they are ready. If not, cook them 1-2 minutes longer but do not over cook as the mussels will get tough. Add the last heaping tablespoon of butter and the parsley. Give the pot a shake to toss the butter all over the mussels. Immediately transfer the mussels into a large serving dish and serve piping hot with some nice bread and a green salad. Oh, and wine of course!

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4 thoughts on “French Bistro at Home – Moules Poulettes

  1. I love mussels and I love cooking them even-though preparing them for cooking might be a bit intense. It’s normal for good mussels to have sand inside you just need to let them rest in a bowl full of fresh water for about an hour and they’ll drop all of it in the bottom of the bawl. February and March is the best season for mussels in the Mediterranean so probably I should visit the fish market and try your recipe 😉

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    1. Thank you for visiting Connie! You are right about soaking when mussels are harvested in the wild. I usually get fresh mussels that are farmed in Prince Edouard Island (Canada) and they never have sand and very little beard. Makes for a very quick meal. Please let me know how they turn out! And I would trade sand in my mussels to spend winter in the Mediterranean 🙂

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  2. Looks delicious – I’m totally afraid of preparing seafood but lately, we have been looking for new proteins around here so I think I need to buck up and give it a try. Have you been watching The Amazing Race Canada? They went to PEI and had to strip mussels from the cord used to catch them – it was no easy task. Watching them yank and pull on the mussels to get them off makes me wonder how it is that ALL of them don’t arrive broken!

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    1. I know! I didn’t realize what hard work it was. I remember picking mussels in Italy a long time ago. I was a child and I do not remember it being so intense. Then again, I remember they were full of sand so we probably picked the wrong kind lol! Mussels are cheap: try a pound and worst case scenario, you won’t really like it and put it on your «never» list. I am like that with broccoli hahaha.

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