Grilled Open Shell Mussels with Olive Oil & White Pepper

Short days. long nights, deep mists and damp air. Winter in Burgundy has its downsides but one of the benefits of  the arrival of this new season is the abundance of good shellfish at the local market in Beaune.

Too many months have past since I last shucked a dozen oysters over the kitchen sink with a  glass or two of Saint Romain for company, but any day now the bivalves will be back. So too will the muscles from Normandy and Brittany. And there is no better month to eat mussels than September.

While I am the first person to advocate eating these velvet-black bearded beauties with a heap of 'frite' , while cycling & eating  in Provence recently, with Chef Jody Adams, I was introduced to  this inventive way of eating them that is ideal for the last bbq’s of the summer.

  • 24 medium sized mussels
  • your best olive oil
  • White pepper corns, finely ground.

1. Fire up the BBQ and burn down to some white embers.

2. With a small, sharp knife you need to take half the shell away from the other half. Carefully put the point of the knife under the shell and with a jiggle and a slide the mussel should come apart. Prctaice makes perfect

3. Line the muscles up in tidy rows on a fine grill. Failing that line them up on a large spaced grill covered in foil and pierced.

4. With all the muscles lined up put a drop of olive oil and a tiny pinch of white pepper in each one

5. Lay over the coals for no more than a minute and then serve from the shell.

6 .Wine recommendation: Saint Romain Sous Les Chateau - Prunier Damy.