Perefct Moules Mariniere (Felicity Cloake)

Serves 2

1kg mussels
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
1 bay leaf
150ml dry white wine, eg muscadet
50g butter, cubed
A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1. Rinse the mussels in cold running water, and then give them a good scrub and scrape to remove any barnacles or dirt. Discard any with broken shells, and give any open ones a sharp tap: if they don’t close, then throw them away too, because they’re dead. Pull out the beards – the fibrous little appendages which the mussels use to attach themselves to ropes or rocks, by pulling them sharply towards the hinge end of the mussel, then leave them to sit in cold water for a couple of hours until ready to use.

2. Put the chopped shallots, thyme leaves, bay leaf and wine into a large pan, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down, and cook gently for 10 minutes, then turn up the heat to medium-high.

3. Drain the mussels and tip into the pan. Cover and cook until most of them have opened: about 3 minutes.

4. Add the butter and put the lid back on for 30 seconds to allow it to melt. Add the parsley and shake the pan well to distribute, then season gently and serve immediately, discarding any mussels which remain closed.

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