As I was sitting at home watching more clips of Gordon Ramsay rip into another hapless chef regarding his inability to cook mussels, it hit me: I need mussels. Specifically, moules mouclade a la Les Halles.
Capitol Swell and I were at Les Halles last Saturday after my shopping tour that morning. The mouclade that day was spot-on. Rich, creamy, thick and with just the right balance of curry notes. A perfect sauce for sopping with our bread. That had to be one of the best serving of moules I've had yet. Today was going to be my chance to replicate that brilliance. So off to Wegman's I went.
Long time readers of this blog know that I'm really not a big fan of Wegman's. It's big and huge and filled with a lot of stuff, but they always seem to not have the stuff I'm looking for. Caul fat? No. Hangar steak? No. Thoughtfully sourced products? Not really.
At least this time they had everything I was looking for - but I did get one of the last two bags of mussels. Though I can't fault them for that since I didn't hit the store until 7pm. Of course, I'm trying to time it so that I'll miss the worst of the crowd on a Saturday, but it seems that no time is a good time for low volume at Wegman's.
With a bag of mussels, some parsley, a baguette, creme fraiche and other odds and ends for later projects/dinners, I make as quick an escape as possible and head home.
Now, I don't know how to make mouclade and since I couldn't find any recipes in my cookbook collection (damn you Bourdain for not putting Les Halles' version in your cookbook), I scoured the Internet for a suitable recipe. The one I decided to use as my guide is from the blog La Recette du Jour.
I pretty much followed Steve's recipe and procedures but made substitutions of my own. Instead of a dry white, all I have by the range is a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Reisling and I used a Jamaican Curry Powder instead of Madras. Otherwise, it's free-range eggs from Springfield Farm, Vermont's Finest Creme Fraiche and unsalted butter from Trickling Springs Creamery.
Things went well. No problems. Popped the baguette in a 350F oven with a half cup of water splashed into the bottom for texture and we were off. In the end, I thought the mouclade was good, but it could have been better. I thought that my results were a bit watery. Not enough "punch" in the flavor. A bit too much acid from the lemon and the riesling was definitely too sweet for this dish. Could have used a little salt too. Maybe a sprinkle of salt just before serving. The next time I will definitely have to source a can of the Madras Curry Powder cause I think the Jamaican one was just a bit softer and I wanted more bite. I wanted to yearn for the juices. I want to fight to slather my bread in the stuff.
One thing I would like to note is how much I enjoy eating at home. While I do enjoy going out to eat, the beauty of eating at home is that you can eat like a savage and no one will notice, or give you weird looks from across the dining room. Yes, you can use your hands. Forget the fork. Forget civility. Forget propriety. Forget your heritage, upbringing and how this behavior is "unbecoming." There's nothing like working the curry from your cuticles afterwards...