Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baked mussles with garlic butter

Moules gratinées à l'escargot

I've always admired the way how garlic and butter, two simple ingredients cooking gently on the stove, can spread so much comfort and warmth in a house. It's one of those smells I've grown up learning to love and appreciate in a way that most people don't. It's just remarkable how something so simple can fill the entire house with such a cozy and appetizing smell,  almost as satisfying as eating the food itself.

Enough about my philosophical thoughts about the wonderful marriage of garlic and butter. I will now be sharing a delicious belgian recipe that just captures the essence of what I just wrote up above. I had these garlic mussles at a restaurant in Brussels last autumn and oh are they to die for. I've always been a sucker for, believe it or not, the french dish Escargot, snails in garlic butter. Actually, my secret conclusion is that anything with garlic and butter ends up tasting like a piece of heaven in your mouth. Finito!

2 lbs of blue mussles (preferably already cooked and in halves)
2 sticks of butter
2 small shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 of a cup of parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper
breadcrumbs (optional)

Baguette - to compliment the dish (preferably your own homemade sour dough bread ;)

How to do it:
Preheat your oven at 400 ̊ F (205 ̊ C). Start off by rinsing the mussles well. When making the garlic butter, make sure the butter is room temperature. Mix together the chopped shallots, garlic, parsley and gently incorporate it into the soft butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Place in fridge to cool before handling putting it on the mussles. Place the mussle halves on an oven tray. Put about 1 teaspoon of garlic butter on each half, making sure every mussle gets a good amount of that wonderful garlicy goodness! This is optional, but I like gicing the mussle a little crust on top. Sprinkling some fine bread crumbs on each mussle gives them a very appetizing look and it'll turn nice and golden brown in the oven.
Bake the mussles for a few minutes, keeping a good eye on them.

Serve the mussles when fresh out of the oven. I prefer the family style way, you know, placing the tray in the middle of the table and letting people pick them up one by one as they eat. This will without doubt create a very intimate and enjoyable meal for family or friends. I like to keep it simple some times, not too pretentious. Having some bread with this dish is perfect considering the fact that you really NEED to have something to soak up all those garlic butter juices in the bottom of the tray. I personally say bread was invented just for that reason. 

Hope you enjoy this and don't hesitate 
to give me your input or comments on the dish!