I’ve eaten moules farcies à la sètoise, mussels stuffed with minced pork, many times in restaurants as it’s one of my favourites and I’ve also eaten it at friends’ houses, but until today we’ve never plucked up the courage to make it ourselves. I’ve added the question mark to the title because our friends here, 50 kilometres from Sète, would say that this recipe isn’t necessarily confined to Sète and would call it simply moules farcies, but it is known for its connection with Sète where it is often served with pasta rather than rice. Having decided that today was the day we were going to try this apparently quite difficult recipe, I read some of the recipes in André Soulier’s wonderful La cuisine secrète du Languedoc-Roussillon and then went to the village shop just as the shell fish van from Bouzigues was arriving in the place outside. We had lots of advice from friends in the shop and – importantly – about how to open the mussels from the man who was selling them. Somehow we put all these different ideas into a recipe of our own. Lo Jardinièr did the labour-intensive work of opening all the mussels while I made the stuffing. The full recipe is on the Food from the Mediterranean blog, but here are some pictures as a taster.
Opening the mussels was fiddly, but not as difficult as we’d expected:
The advantage of this method, recommended by the man who sells the mussels, of cutting around between the two halves of the shell and through the muscle which causes the mussel to open when cooked, is that the two halves then don’t need to be tied together once they’re stuffed as many recipes suggest. This was something which has put me off making this dish in the past as it sounded as though it would take so long!
When all the mussels were open I stuffed each one with a spoonful of the meat mixture and closed it tightly, then packed them all in the bottom of a large pan. I used my Spanish sartén which was just the right size to hold them all in the sauce while they cooked.
And was it worth spending the time on a Saturday morning doing this? Well, we certainly thought so. The mussels and sauce were at least as good as, if not better than, any we’ve had in restaurants, even in Sète!