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Mussels or Moules Mariniere

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Drat. The weather turned frightful here in Chicago again. No tornadoes, just that raw numbing cold. I live near the lake. In the summer, the breeze is delightful. In the winter, it’s a freezing gale off the lake that chills every bone in your body.

My wife just got back from Florida, so we are cranky about the cold. This is the time of year that it starts to wear on you. That’s why so many schools have Spring Break right about now. You need a little vitamin D to change your outlook on life. Thank goodness I am going to Austin, TX next week to the ACA conference. Hope to see you there.

Both my kids are at college eating college food and I know they read this blog so this blogpost is designed to make them a bit jealous. College is far different than when I went to school and we had to communicate via expensive long distance calls or stamped USPS letters. We talk to our kids almost every day and if we don’t someone sends out a Kik message. No doubt this evening they will be headed out to have fun at some college party, while their fossils sit at home in Chicago.

Tonight, because it’s not a night to go out, my wife and I are staying in and making some mussels. I love mussels. The best ones I ever had were at The Publican in Chicago. La Sardine, Le Bouchon and Bistrot Margot all do a good moules mariniere, and Hopleaf has a decent one too, but Publican is the best. If I had a last meal, it would take place at a french bistrot.

Chicago’s finances stink and the taxes are high but it is a great restaurant town. Chef Paul Kahan is one of the best. My skills don’t compare to his but we will try to duplicate it tonight.

The Publican Mussels

1 1/2# Mussels
4 Tablespoons Butter (1/2 Stick)
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic sliced
1 shallot sliced
1 stalk of Celery Sliced
1/4 teaspoon of chili
1/2 Cup Gueuze Beer (we use Lindeman’s Cuvee René or
you could substitute White Wine)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Over Medium heat using your All-Clad 3 quart sauté pan – Melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter.
2. Simmer the bay, garlic, shallot, celery and chili for one minute.
3. Do not color.
4. Add Mussels; turn up the heat to high and stir to incorporate the ingredients.
5. Add Gueuze and cover for three minute or until all the mussels are open.
6. Add the remaining butter, the lemon juice and the salt and pepper.
7. Once butter has melted give the mussels one more stir and serve.
8. Serve the mussels with baguette and the left-over gueuze.

Of course, I have purchased my crusty french bread, and have a bottle of Muscadet chilling. And Lurpak butter was on sale at Treasure Island.


Forgot to add, if you want to drink wine with this, don’t spend a lot of money. Get a decent Muscadet out of France. Should cost you $8-$14 bucks. Buy the cheapest one you can find. The other thing to do is buy a good belgian beer-full bodied. Not a stout but a blonde. Things always go better with blondes!

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