Mussels with Snail Butter ~ Moules a l'Escargot

April  4, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Serves 6 ~ 6 mussels for each person as a First Course
Author Notes

Mussels in Snail Butter is a goodwill gesture in the direction of the likes and dislikes of other diners...in this case, a way around an antipathy to eating snails. The garlic and parsley butter usually stuffed into the gastropod's shell along with the creature, is instead spread over mussels on the half-shell. The flavours and style of preparation are essentially those of Escargots de Bourgogne but...without the escargots. This is not an original recipe, nor can it be ascribed to a single individual. I first encountered it in a French restaurant in Kinshasa, Chez Philo. —diplomatickitchen

What You'll Need
  • I. For steaming the Mussels: the Mussels may be steamed in their own juices, adding only 1/4 cup of water to the pot, bringing it to a boil, adding the mussels and steaming them according to the directions below. However, using the additional ingredien
  • 28 Mussels in their shells: this is 4 more than the recipe requires, in case some of the mussels fail to open when steamed and must be discarded
  • 3 tablespoons Onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme, dried or fresh
  • 2 cups dry White Wine
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1 tablespoon Butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Parsley, chopped
  • some freshly ground Black Pepper and Salt
  • II. For making the Snail Butter, Broiling and Serving the Mussels
  • 8 tablespoons Butter, softened
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons fresh Parsley, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 cup fine, dry Bread Crumbs
  • some freshly ground Black Pepper and Salt
  • 3 cups coarse-grained salt: use a cheap variety since the salt is spread on the aking pan to hold the mussels while they broil--not eaten
  1. Debeard the mussels by finding the small thread that extends out of the straight side of their rounded, closed lips and pull it out. Fill the sink or a large bowl with cold salted water and soak the mussels in it for 10 minutes to help cleanse them of sand or grit. Rinse them and scrub their outer shells if they have residue on them. There may be white barnacles attached to the mussel shells and these come off easily by giving them a quick blow at their base with the edge of a knife.
  2. Melt the Tablespoon of butter in a deep pot over Medium heat. Add the onion and cook it, stirring, for a few minutes, until it softens. Add the wine, thyme, water and several grindings of black pepper and salt and bring the liquid to a boil.
  3. Add the mussels and sprinkle the parsley over them. The wine and water will not cover them. Lower the heat so that the mussels steam and simmer and put the lid on the pot. The mussels will start to open after 2 or 3 minutes. In about 5 minutes they will all have opened wide and are done.
  4. Remove the mussels from the broth formed by the wine, herbs and mussel juices and discard any that haven't opened. Cool the steamed mussels while you make the Snail Butter. (A suggested use for the broth is to reserve it for a Light Lunch for 2: reheat the broth and eat it, just as it is, with slices of baguette.)
  5. To make the Snail Butter: place the softened butter in a bowl and beat it well with a mixer or wooden spoon. Then add the finely minced parsley and garlic, and a few grinds of black pepper and salt, and mix everything together well. Set the butter aside while you prepare the mussels for broiling.
  6. Scatter the salt over a baking pan. The salt will prevent the mussels from sliding around and will absorb butter that bubbles out over the edge of the shells so that it doesn't burn and smoke on the tray.
  7. Remove the half of each shell to which the mussel is least firmly attached and discard it. Leave the mussels attached to the half-shell if they haven't come loose during steaming. Replace any mussels into half-shells that have fallen out.
  8. Spread about a teaspoonful of snail butter over each mussel and place it on the baking tray. When all the mussels have been filled, divide any remaining snail butter amongst them and sprinkle them all with the fine, dry bread crumbs. (Refrigerate the tray of mussels if you are not broiling and serving them right away.
  9. To broil and serve the mussels, place the tray of mussels under a hot broiler for about 3 minutes, or until the butter bubbles and the bread crumbs turn golden. Divide the mussels among small plates and serve them with slices of baguette.

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