Moules Marinière, So Easy A …

Moules à la Marinière

Dipping crusty bread into the broth of a pot of steaming mussels has to be one of my favorite eating experiences. You? And when a restaurant offers mussels, I’m inclined to order them because, one, I rarely make them at home, and two, they’re so damn good — when they’re good, that is.

Why I never make mussels at home confounds me, especially after trying this Balthazar recipe for Moules Marinière. It’s so easy a … ok, no need to go there. But seriously, I followed this recipe to a tee (with the exception of the freshly ground white pepper … so French), and was so pleased, I’ve now made them twice in one week.

This recipe could not be simpler: sweat shallots, garlic, celery and thyme in a stick — gasp — of butter; season with salt; add crème fraîche and white wine; bring to a boil; steam the mussels for 3 minutes; sprinkle with parsley, stir and serve with crusty bread. Voila: Moules à la Marinière.

I think these mussels would make a fun dish for entertaining.  The broth (steps 1 and 2 in the recipe) could certainly be made in advance, leaving you with no more than 3 minutes of cooking time. To complete this meal, all you need is some nice fresh bread, a simple salad, and some sort of lovely dessert. Yum.

For those of you who live in the area, I highly recommend mussels from Carlsbad Aquafarm. I’ve been purchasing them at Pelly’s Fish Market in Carlsbad but they can also be found at various farmers’ markets. Call Carlsbad Aquafarm for the details: 760 438 2444.

Also, I can’t say enough about Pelly’s Fish Market. The employees are incredibly nice and informative; I didn’t have to ask for ice; I was told to keep the bag the mussels were given to me in open so that the mussels could breathe; and I was instructed on how to store the mussels once I brought them home: in a shallow bowl, covered with a damp paper towel in the coldest part of my fridge. I’m not sure I’ve ever received such service at a fish market.

And, while I was there, I delighted in one of the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten. There was nothing gourmet about this taco — no fancy slaws or sauces — just fresh, grilled fish wrapped in a corn tortilla with some raw shredded cabbage. Delectable! The place was packed, too, always a good sign at a fish market.

Moules à la Marinière




Moules à la Marinière

Serves 2 as an entrée or 6 as an appetizer
Source: The Balthazar Cookbook

8 T. unsalted butter
5 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (or diced)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced on the bias
4 sprigs thyme
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup dry white wine
2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper (I actually never added any pepper, so your call on the pepper)
4 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 lbs. mussels — Carlsbad Aquafarm mussels are delectable, if you live in the area; otherwise, Balthazar recommends Prince Edward Island
a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

bread, any kind you like, grilled or heated just before serving

1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over a LOW flame. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and thyme. Gently sauté for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Season with a pinch of kosher salt.

2. Add the wine, pepper (if using), and crème fraîche, and raise the heat to high.

3. Once the liquid comes to a boil, add the mussels, stir gently, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the mussels open.

4. Add the parsley and stir gently. Serve in large bowls (remembering to discard any unopened mussels), with either crusty bread or French fries … yum.

Moules à la Marinière


  1. says

    you make it looks so simple and elegant and delicious. i’ve tried mussels before and i want to like them, but there’s something i just can’t get past. maybe it’s the texture? maybe i’ve only had poorly prepared mussels? i’ll keep trying!



  2. says

    ah, yes–so many things are good when they’re good. :)
    gorgeously prepared dish, alexandra, even if it’s not my cup of tea.

  3. luisa raquel says

    que ricos mejillones y que foto tan bonita, casi se puede saborear al mirarla, felicidades.

  4. Nneka says

    hey buddy – i am so making this recipe, thanks! i too can never resist mussels on a menu but never make them at home.

  5. says

    Hey I know that book! Saw it only once, just recently, in New York. It seems pretty uncommon!
    I love well-prepared mussels – which means I usually have to make it myself :/ These look perfect!

  6. says

    I can’t tell you how much I love mussels and when we eat them, I’ve got to wrestle my children to get a few for myself because they eat them ALL! This recipe sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  7. says

    … I was just kidding about the wrestling … I don’t actually wrestle my children … just grab a few mussels out of the mounds they set in their own plates!

  8. says

    How delicious! I used to live really close to a Belgian beer cafe, and I’d have moules frites about twice a week. I love it, but I’ve never actually made moules mariniere from scratch. If i can get the mussels I will definitely try this!

  9. says

    I was surprised when I saw that even my kids adopted moules marinieres early on; it is a great dish, fully satisfying, and except for cleaning the mussels, pretty easy and fast!

  10. Rory says

    Yum! We have a great fish market (okay, many great fish markets)near us in Monterey and we’ve been going to town on Mussels lately! Trying your recipe tonight! :-) Hope you are doing well!

  11. Adriana says

    I just made this delicious dish and we wolfed it down with fries and a baguette. I tried to eat as much as I could of the sauce, but alas, I need more bread next time. Thank you for the recipe! :)

  12. Laura in Sonoma says

    Hi Ali,

    Love love love mussels with a good broth. Like you, if it’s on the menu I usually order it. I have never really considered doing this at home, but going to try for C&C tomorrow night. Would you do your artisan bread recipe or the peasant bread to go with? I haven’t tried either yet, but am up for either one.

    Probably going to pair it with a frisee salad with pancetta and poached eggs. (and a good bottle of California wine of course)


    • says

      So fun, Laura! And so sorry to just be getting back to you. I would love you to try the peasant bread recipe mostly because it is so easy and so delicious — it’s the one I always find myself relying on because I don’t have to plan too far in advance. Do you have small (1 qt/l or 1.5 qt/l) bowls for baking the peasant bread? They aren’t necessary but they do produce such a nice loaf. I do love the artisan bread, too, but it just requires more planning…perhaps you’ve already started?

  13. Laura in Sonoma says

    After watching your wonderful videos (adorable toe heads, mine were also) I’m going to do the peasant bread. I do have two pyrex bowls, from living in Dallas for three years and setting up a duplicate kitchen.

    Hubs is so thrilled about the menu..

    oh, and setting up all sorts of private winery tours (most friends are vitners) for you visit :)

    • says

      Oh my, you are tempting me to drop everything and jump on the next plane headed west. Seriously, one day I will get there.

      Hope your evening was a blast…we’ve been doing taxes. A bottle of wine has eased the pain. Hope the bread and mussels turned out well!

  14. Laura in Sonoma says

    Great evening and thank you so much for bringing mussels into our kitchen. I didn’t get it right but not afraid of trying again. I didn’t get the veggies soft enough, then added too much creme fraiche (didn’t think that was possible) and didn’t cook the mussels long enough. But will try again!! And the peasant bread was great with it. Gourmet inexpensive meal!

    • says

      Wonderful to hear this! I haven’t made mussels in ages, but it’s one of my favorite meals. Dying to try a green curry mussel recipe. I love that kind of thing.

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