Pilaf de Moules
(Mussel pilaf)

Mussels

Serves 4 as a starter or 2-3 as a main course.

For a hot pilaf, substitute 6 tablespoons double cream for the vinaigrette; stir it in just before serving.

2 litres mussels
150ml white wine
clove garlic, crushed (optional)
30g butter
onion, thinly sliced
300g (10oz) long grain rice
salt and pepper
vinaigrette dressing made with tablespoon white wine vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper and 3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley


1. Wash the mussels under running water, removing any weed. Discard broken shells or any which do not close when tapped. Put the mussels in a large pan, add the white wine and garlic, if included; cover and cook over high heat, stirring once, for 5-7 minutes or until opened. Remove from their shells, discard the beards and reserve the mussels. Strain the cooking liquid through muslin and add enough water to make it up to 600ml

2. Set the oven at moderate, 180C (35OF) gas 4. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan and cook the onion slowly until soft but not brown. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains are transparent and the butter is absorbed. Add the mussel liquid with pepper (if the mussels were salty, no extra salt will be needed). Cover the pan, bring to the boil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

3. Stir in the mussels, cover and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes. Allow the rice to stand for 5-10 minutes. The pilaf can be cooked up to 8 hours ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.

4. One to two hours before serving, gently stir in the vinaigrette dressing and taste the salad for seasoning. Cover and leave in the refrigerator for the flavours to blend. Just before serving, stir in the chopped parsley.

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