Experience the irresistible charm and rich flavours of this recipe from Jenny Linford’s cookbook, Garlic. This French-inspired dish combines plump mussels with a crunchy wild garlic breadcrumb topping. Whether savoured as an appetiser or the star of the meal, it pays homage to the allure of this beloved ingredient.
How and when to pick the best mussels?
When it comes to selecting the finest mussels for your culinary creations, timing and quality are key. Here are some tips to ensure you pick the best mussels to cook in France:
- Season: The prime season for mussels in France is generally from September to April, with peak availability during the colder months. This is when mussels are at their plumpest and most flavourful.
- Appearance: Look for mussels with tightly closed shells. Avoid any that are cracked, broken, or already open, as they may be compromised or no longer fresh.
- Smell: Fresh mussels should have a mild, briny scent of the sea. Avoid any mussels with a strong, unpleasant odor, as this can indicate spoilage.
- Storage: If you’re not cooking the mussels immediately, store them in a cool place, ideally in a bowl or container covered with a damp cloth. Avoid sealing them in an airtight container, as they need to breathe.
- Cleaning: Before cooking, give the mussels a good rinse under cold running water. Remove any beards or debris from the shells and discard any mussels that remain open after a gentle tap.
Grilled wild garlic/ramps mussels
- 1 kg/2¼ lbs mussels
- 30 g/1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 15 g/¼ cup wild garlic leaves/ramps thoroughly rinsed and finely chopped
- 60 ml/¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse the mussels well under cold running water, discarding any that are open or cracked. Scrub them well to remove any beards or grit.
- Put the cleaned mussels in a large pan, adding cold water to a depth of 2.5 cm/1 in. up the side of the pan. Set the pan over medium heat, cover, and cook the mussels for around 5 minutes, until they have steamed open.
- Drain the mussels, discarding any that haven’t opened during the cooking process.
- Once the mussels are cool enough to handle, pull one half of each shell off each mussel, leaving the mussel anchored in the remaining half. Place the mussels, shell-side down, on a baking sheet.
- Mix together the breadcrumbs, wild garlic/ramps, and olive oil, seasoning with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spoon a little of the breadcrumb mixture over each mussel, so that it forms a topping.
- Preheat a grill/broiler to its highest setting and cook the topped mussels for 2-3 minutes until the crumb topping turns golden brown. Serve at once.
Taken from the August/September Issue of France Today Magazine, recipe courtesy of Jenny Linford’s Garlic.
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