Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 99! Luxembourg - Moules a la Luxembourgeoise (Mussels, Luxembourg Style) Up Next, Macedonia

Want to know all the things that went wrong this week? Our pipes froze, my windshield was smashed to smithereens by falling ice, we have ice dams on our roof, hence water seeping into the ceilings, and my dryer and printer both seem to be on the way out...So what's a girl to do? Cook mussels in tons of garlic and Riesling wine! Turns out, everything thing will be just fine. This dish was easy to prepare, smells heavenly and is fun to eat. It's wonderful served alongside a green salad and crusty French bread. If you're inclined, a dry Riesling or Pinot Grigio are a great accompaniment. Traditionally, this meal is served with Pomme Fritte, or French Fries, but I'm trying to be good after my last sinful bout with bacon.

Located in Western Europe, Luxembourg is bordered by Belgium, France and Germany. Luxembourg is ruled by a Grand Duke, and is the only remaining Sovereign Grand Duchy in the world. The country boasts the world's highest GDP per capita, making for a thriving and vibrant economy. Culturally, Luxembourg is a mix romance Europe and Germanic Europe. It is also a tri-lingual country where German, French and Luxembourgish are spoken.

Cuisine in Luxembourg is heavily influenced by French and German traditions, and more recently, by  the Italian and Portuguese. Cooking tends to be less fussy than French cuisine and reflects a simple, yet sophisticated peasant style. Pastries, cheese, fish from local rivers, smoked ham, game such as hare and wild boar as well as broad beans and potatoes are all common fare.

Moule a la Luxembourgeoise

2-3 lbs. mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded (farm raised are fine)
2 leeks, washed and finely chopped
1 carrot, scraped and finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large celery stick (with leaves) finely chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups Riesling wine
5 Tbsp. butter
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 sprig of thyme, finely chopped
2 sprigs tarragon, finely chopped

Pick over the cleaned mussels and throw away any that are not closed. Place in a bowl of water and wash the mussels further rubbing them together and changing water several times.

Melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a large pot, add the onion and shallots and saute for about 4 minutes, or until soft, then add the remaining vegetables along with the thyme and tarragon. Pour over 1/4 of the Riesling, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, crush the garlic and mix in a mortar with the remaining butter. Season this mixture with a little freshly-ground black pepper.

Increase the heat under the vegetable mix to high, add the washed mussels then pour in the remaining wine. Cover securely with a lid and every two minutes stir to ensure the mussels do not catch the base of the pan. Continue cooking, stirring regularly, for three minutes then spring with freshly-chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Final Assessment: AWESOMENESS! I'm going to use the left over broth and vegetables to make soup tomorrow.

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