In France, the mussels in this classic dish are served in their half shells and eaten with the fingers. The sauce is mopped up with bread. Alternatively, remove the mussels entirely from the shells and serve them in the sauce as a soup.
4.8 kilograms Mussels
1 Bay Leaf
1 sprig Parsley
6 Black Peppercorns
450 ml White Wine, dry
150 ml Cream, double
2 medium Egg Yolks
2 tablespoons Parsley, chopped
Clean the mussels thoroughly, discarding any with broken or open shells.
Scrape away all grit and remove the beards.
Put the mussels in a large, heavy-based saucepan with the bay leaf, parsley, peeled and finely chopped shallot and the peppercorns.
Pour over the wine, cover the pan with a lid and cook the mussels over high heat until the shells open.
As the shells open, remove the mussels from the pan, throw away the empty top halves and place the mussels in their half shells in a warmed casserole.
Cover them with a clean cloth to prevent them drying out, and keep them warm.
Strain the cooking liquid through muslin.
Mix the cream and egg yolks together in a bowl and blend in a few tablespoons of the mussel liquid.
Add to the remaining liquid, together with the chopped parsley.
Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and lemon juice.
Re-heat the liquid, without boiling, until it has thickened slightly.
Serve the mussels in individual deep soup plates, with the sauce poured over them.
Set a finger bowl with a slice of lemon by each plate.
Offer plenty of crusty bread and provide a spare bowl or plates for the empty mussel shells.