Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mussels Luxembourg Style

Mussels are a very popular dish in Luxembourg. From October until February (the months with an "R") there is hardly a restaurant whose menu does not have the obligatory "Moules Marinières" or "Moules à la Luxembourgeoise". In every case mussels are served with pommes frites.

For 4 persons.


  • 3-4 kilos cleaned mussels
  • 2 leeks, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1-2 shallots
  • 1 large stick of celery and some celery leaf
  • a bunch of parsley
  • 5 bulbs of garlic
  • ½ bottle of Riesling
  • 150 gr. butter
  • Pepper and Salt
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 2 tarragon leaves
  • Do not fear; 3-4 kilos of mussels are not too much. Take each mussel individually, and make absolutely certain that its shell is tightly closed. Remove any algae and clean the shells of any impurity with a short sharp knife. Put the cleaned mussels in a bowl of water. Throw away any which do not pass the test.
  • Press the mussel and rub the two sides of the shell together in a light scissors movement. A healthy mussel will close again by itself. Any others should be discarded, as should any about which you are in any way doubtful. Wash the mussels thoroughly by rubbing them vigorously together. Change the water 2 or 3 times.
  • There is another mode of testing the mussels if you are still not sure. Place the mussels in cold salt water. A living mussel will open slightly and sink to the bottom. After 2 hours throw away any which are still on the surface.
Now the preparation:
  • Clean all the vegetables, except the garlic, and chop them very finely. Allow the butter to reach room temperature so that it is soft.
  • Lightly fry the onion and shallots in 50 grammes of butter in a large pot, and add all the chopped vegetables and the thyme and tarragon, also finely chopped. Pour ¼ of Riesling, and allow to simmer for a quarter of an hour.
  • During this time, crush the garlic, and mix with the remaining 100 grammes of butter. To this add a little freshly milled pepper.
  • Put the pot on a very high heat, and drop the mussels into the boiling contents, pouring in the rest of the wine. Cover firmly. Every two minutes stir with a circular movement to make sure the mussels do not remain at the bottom of the pot.
  • After ten minutes almost all the mussels should have opened. Now put the garlic butter in the pot. In two or three minutes, with regular stirring, the sauce should have mixed thoroughly. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley, and serve immediately.
  • Crisp pommes frites should be served with mussels, and an outstanding Riesling. Luxembourg's Belgian neighbours often drink a cold beer with their mussels.
Mussels as well as pommes frites are best eaten with the fingers. Do not forget to place an empty bowl on the table for the discarded shells. Experienced mussel-eaters slide the empty shells into one another. This takes up less space, and no one can tell that he alone has eaten two or three kilos!

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