In Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, you steam mussels with white wine, garlic, and herbs. You then eat them with French Fries the classical ‘ moules-frites ’. In Spain, you can cook them in a similar manner with added lemon. You can serve moules can in soups and pickled in oil and vinegar flavoured with bay leaves, peppercorns, and paprika. Mussels are eaten in Chowder in New Zealand and America and in Cantonese cuisine in a spicy black bean broth. Mussels are very versitle in cooking. You can add them to fish pies, seafood stews, and pasta dishes as well as steamed.
What are Moules à la Normande?
Moules à la Normande are a variation of the classic Moules marinière using the cider produced in the region. Some recipes use mushrooms and some bacon which is how I like mine. We have a long tradition of cider making in the Channel Islands. For my recipe I am using La Robeline Cider. Since 2005 Richard and Sarah Matlock have been producing a ‘champagne’ style cider. Using a vintage French cider press shipped over from Normandy.
La Robeline Cider
La Robeline Cider harvest nearly thirty orchards in Jersey striving to minimise their environmental impact. No chemicals are used in any of the orchards that are harvested for La Robeline cider. Some orchard owners have flocks of sheep which graze under the trees. Others have beehives or cut the grass for hay and some just enjoy their orchards. They all allow La Robeline to harvest the apples each year.
The cider is purely fermented apple juice free from any additives and is bottle conditioned. Ie. A small amount of yeast is left in in the cider when it is bottled, so that it can carry out the secondary fermentation. This gives the characteristic fizz! The process does leave a light sediment in the bottle. The yeast is not discorged as they do with Champagne.
You can hear me cooking Moules à la Normande and talking about Jersey and La Robeline cider on the Campaign for Real Ale podcast Pubs. Pints. People. Click on the picture for a direct link.
Preparing Moules or Mussels
Allow 400 gr to 650 gr of mussels per person for a generous portion of moules. To prepare your mussels first rinse them with plenty of cold running water and throw away any mussels with cracked or broken shells. Give any open mussels a quick squeeze if they do not close immediately, throw away as well as they are dead and not to be eaten. Then using a small knife scrape the shell to remove any barnacles or dirt and pull out any beards by tugging towards the hinge of the mussel shell. If you intend to cook later that day, store in a plastic container in the bottom of your refrigerator covered with a damp tea towel.
You can listen to me cooking Moules à la Normande with La Robeline Cider on the CAMRA podcast Pubs. Pints. People, and talking about cooking with cider
More Delicious Mussel Recipes
Jersey Mussels with Garlic, Chilli, Caraway, and Beer. This is a full flavoured spiced version of steamed mussels. Liberation Ale replaces the more common wine normally associated with mussels. The shallots and tomato concassé add a little sweetness. The dish is finished with fresh coriander.
There is something about the combination of the pungent braised chorizo and aromatic, slightly bitter, beer with the cooking liquor of the mussels which creates a wonderful broth
Moules à la Normande
- 1 Large heavy bottomed Pan
- 2 kilos Jersey Mussels washed and prepared
- 3 large Banana Shallots peeled and very finely chopped
- 100 gram Jersey Butter
- 75 gram Smoked Steaky Bacon cut in very thin strips
- A very generous sprig fresh Thyme
- A Bay leaf
- 300 ml La Robeline Dry Cider
- A generous splash Jersey Apple Brandy ( optional )
- 200 ml Thick Jersey Cream
- A small bunch Curly Parsley washed and finely chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Plenty of warm crusty bread
- Heat half the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan and add the shallots and bacon.
- Carefully sauté until the bacon is cooked and the shallots are soft but not over browned.
- Add the bay leaf and picked thyme leaves then pour in the cider and apple brandy and bring up to the boil. Reduce the volume by about half.
- Tip the mussels into the pan and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Steam for three minutes until the mussels have all started to open and remove from the heat.
- Add the remaining butter and cream and cook vigorously for two more minutes to thicken the cooking liquid.
- Add the parsley, replace the lid and put back on the heat for thirty seconds shaking the pan well to distribute the parsley.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately, removing any mussels which have remained closed.
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