This recipe is the perfect example of how maximizing a few key ingredients minimizes effort. This is a simple dish that I've had many times (but never enough!) in Normandy, where hungry eaters perch near the water in seaside restaurants and down huge iron pots of tiny mussels in sauces that go from the classic Marinière to cider, to cream, to garlic, to, of course, Roquefort, served with baguette, frites, and dry Norman apple cider.
In France, mussels are usually served as the main course, but I think something with this much attitude makes a killer appetizer. Sauté sweet shallots in olive oil and add some dry white wine for acidity and fresh thyme for woodsy floral warmth. The fresh mussels add their own briny liquor. Then, the perfect balance of pungent, sharp blue Roquefort and sweet, mellow, velvety cream come together to add the ultimate punch to the distinctive broth.
I like to serve this with grilled country bread and a dry apple or pear cider from northern France.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium shallots, finely diced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 8 stems thyme
- 1 3/4 ounces Roquefort, roughly crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Heat the olive oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan or saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallots, and cook, stirring constantly until just soft, about two minutes. Add the wine and the thyme, and increase the heat to high. When the wine boils, add the Roquefort and mussels. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until all the mussels have opened, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the cream, and serve with crusty bread.