Moules au Safran

Hey hey hey! French title! That’s because I spent ten days in France and picked up a word or two. It says ‘mussels with saffron’. A fairly French (or Provençal)  dish. Originally, I had planned on trying razor clams since the grocery store happened to have them, but a combination of economic sense an a failure on the clams’ part to look attractive upon close inspection, steered us towards the trusty old blue mussels instead.

Ingredients for the main component of tonight’s dinner: Blue mussels, white wine, lemon, garlic, saffron, shallots.

Sweat shallot and garlic in a large pot, then add mussels, then saffron, lemon juice and wine.

Remove mussels and start reducing the broth. I strained the solids from the broth and then reduced the broth with the sieve partially submerged in it, to get more flavor from the shallots and garlic. Thicken the broth to sauce using a dairy product or two. I used crème frâiche and Greek yogurt to avoid the worst greasiness that can happen if one’s too generous with for example double cream.

Plate the mussels and drizzle some nice saffron sauce over. We had fries on the side, as in a classic moules frites, but the fries are prefab and therefore not shown.

I will, however, gladly show off the bread I baked. It’s pretty nice to have something to slosh around in the sauce after you’re out of mussels.

And it’s of course not a proper French dish if there’s no aïoli to add more fat to your fried stuff. It’s the first aïoli I’ve made (in excellent teamwork with my fiancée) and also probably the best I’ve eaten. The trick is apparently to skip the vinegar and add small amounts of lemon juice and slightly too much salt – which will turn out to be the perfect amount of salt if the fries are underseasoned.

To sum up, it was very good eating, but I think I still prefer my mussels cooked by someone else, to save me the trouble of scrubbing and checking for bad ones and so on. I’d happily provide the aïoli though.

 

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