Moules à la Normande (Normandy-style Mussels)

Make mussels the apple of your eye and the star of your meal.

Courtesy Staffan Terje, executive chef/co-owner, Volta, Perbacco and Barbacco, San Francisco

San Francisco’s Volta, which opened in January, is a sleek brasserie that melds French traditions with Staffan Terje’s Swedish upbringing. While these mussels are a classic French preparation, apple and cream are common Scandinavian flavors.

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 ounces diced bacon
  • (¼-inch, optional)
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cups hard apple cider (dry)
  • 4 pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed
  • ¼ cup Calvados
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Toasted levain or sourdough bread, for serving

Heat butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon, if desired. Stir occasionally until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions wilt but don’t brown, about 5 minutes. Add cider. Bring to boil. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 6–8 minutes.

Add mussels. Cover pot. Cook, stirring twice, until all mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Remove mussels, onion and bacon from pot, and divide among 4 bowls.

Bring liquid in pot to boil. ­Reduce to about 1 cup. Add Calvados. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 1 minute. Whisk in crème fraîche. Add parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over mussels. Serve with toasted bread. Serves 4.

Pair It

Terje suggests pairing with the same cider that you use for the sauce. He likes Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut. Alternately, try a lightly oaked Chardonnay, a perfect match for shellfish in cream sauces. Adelsheim 2014 Caitlin’s Reserve Chardonnay (Willamette Valley) is lush, aromatic and focused. Its apple notes complement the dish, and the wine also offers flavors of roasted hazelnuts and buttered popcorn.

Published on May 23, 2016
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.


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