Moules au Citron

Monies au Citron (moo

1 1/2-oh see-trawn) have a fresh tangy flavour and make a delicious hors d’oeuvre or light main course for a summer meal.

Serve garnished with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs.

2½ quarts mussels

2 oz. butter

2 shallots, finely chopped bouquet garni consisting of

4 parsley sprigs,

1 thyme spray and

1 bay leaf tied together

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg juice of

4 lemons

1 tablespoon flour

Wash the mussels in cold water and, with a stiff brush, scrub them to remove any mud on their shells. Discard any mussels which are not tightly shut or do not close if sharply tapped, and any that float or have broken shells. With a sharp knife, scrape off the tufts of hair, or beards, which protrude from between the closed shell halves. Place the mussels in a large bowl of cold water and soak them for 1 hour. Drain the mussels in a colander and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt half the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the shallots, bouquet garni, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and trans-lucent but not brown. Stir in the lemon juice.

Increase the heat to moderately high and add the mussels to the pan. Cook the mussels, shaking the saucepan constantly, for 3 minutes or until the shells open.

Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the mussels and cooking liquid to a large strainer set over a large bowl. Reserve the strained liquid. Set the mussels aside and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter over moderate heat. Remove the pan from the heat and, with a wooden spoon, stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually add the reserved strained cooking liquid, stirring constantly. Return the pan to low heat and, stirring constantly, cook the sauce for 3 to 4 minutes or until it is thick and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat.

Arrange the mussels decoratively in a large warmed serving dish and pour the sauce over them. Serve immediately.

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