While it is bitterly cold outside and the sun hasn’t shone for days, I’m in a rather chipper mood. And the reason is because I came across some Meyer lemons at Hiller’s Market, a grocery store here in Ann Arbor. Some might have thought I was estatic. All’s I gotta say is, if you’ve never jumped up and down in the produce aisle, you really ought to. Hell of a good time.
As the cashier was ringing up my groceries, he picked up the Meyer lemons, looking a little confused.
Are these oranges or lemons?
I grab the lemons and hold them up to his nose
They’re lemons, dude. Smell them!
No, SMELL them. They’re a-mazing!
He sorta smells them and then nonchalantly continues to ring them up. I’m thinking, What? No Oh, my God, you’re right, no You have saved my life. I get nothing from him. Fine, more for me, then.
I always make a lemon tart with these first Meyers of the season. I thought I’d go savory this time around and made a dish I first had in Brussels on a backpacking trip. I was backpacking alone then and this weirdo starting following me for at least half an hour as I was walking into town. I must have looked scared because this other Belgian guy came up to me and asked me if I was okay. I told him I was fine but I thought maybe this man was following me. He told me not to worry and walked with me to my destination to make sure I was safe. When we arrived, I thanked him and he went on his way. His name was Bruno. I think Bruno’s a good name for a boy, don’t you?
Right, the dish. I’ve made this dish often, yet I’m still amazed how easy it is. Cook some shallots in a little butter, add wine (and lemon juice, in this case). Toss the mussels into the pan and steam. In minutes, you have perfectly cooked mussels bathed in a fragrant broth that you can mop up with some crusty bread. Bruno would approve.
MOULES À LA MARINIÈRE – MUSSELS WITH WHITE WINE AND MEYER LEMON
adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
INGREDIENTS: (6-8 servings )
- 6 Tbl. butter
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 1 cup light, dry white wine
- 1 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
- 8 parsley sprigs
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 6 quarts cleaned, scrubbed mussels (& soaked in water for at least 30 minutes)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
- zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- Heat a large kettle/pot on med-high and add the butter and shallots. Cook for approx. 1 minute.
- Add the wine, lemon juice, parsley sprigs and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and let boil for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the mussels to the kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. Frequently grasp the kettle with both hands, your thumbs clamped to the cover, and toss the mussels in the kettle with an up and down slightly jerky motion so the mussels will change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes the shells will open and the mussels are done.
- With a big skimmer (or chopsticks), dip the mussels into wide soup plates or bowls. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.