1.8 kg (4lb) best-quality mussels
1 onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
15g (½ oz ) unsalted butter
100ml (3 ½ oz) dry white wine
2 tablespoons whipping cream
25g (1 oz ) fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1. Cleaning the mussels
Wash the mussels under cold running water, but don’t scrub the shells or the colour will transfer to the juices during cooking, giving them an unappetizing grey appearance. If any of the mussels float it means they are not very fresh, so discard them (and ask your fishmonger to credit them). Press the shells of any open mussels together with your fingers; if they don’t close, discard them. Scrape off any barnacles from the mussels with a sharp knife and pull out the ‘beards’, then drain well.
2. Cooking the onion and herbs Over a medium heat, in a large pan, soften the onion, bay leaves and thyme in the butter for 1 minute.
3. Cooking the mussels Add the mussels and white wine, cover the pan tightly with a lid and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the mussels open.
4. Finishing the dish Stir in the cream and chopped parsley, then serve in a large dish or 4 soup plates. Give finger bowls to your guests and lots of good French bread to mop up the wonderful juices