This Flaming French Mussel Dish Is Ridiculously Simple
Mona Johnson and Jaret Foster—the Portland-based hosts of roving open-air dinner party Tournant—are true seafood junkies. Dungeness crab feeds, beachside sardine grills, and Hama Hama oyster fests are the norm at their live-flame, farm- and sea-to-table event series. Their flashiest gala in recent years? A take on l’éclade de moules, a traditional mussel roast from southwestern France.
Historically, the summertime fête involves arranging the bivalves atop a wet pine plank, covering it in dried pine needles, and setting it aflame: when the smoke clears, you’re left with deeply aromatic finger food, dressed simply with olive oil and sea salt.
For Tournant’s Pacific Northwest iteration, Johnson and Foster roast mussels on a pyre of fresh pine and rosemary. Part aromatherapy, part pyrotechnics, it’s the ultimate appetizer for your summer party.
10 lbs mussels (Johnson recommends Taylor Shellfish), cleaned and debearded
2 2-foot lengths of pine boughs from your backyard (any variety will work)
2 2-foot lengths of fresh rosemary boughs, or 6 large sprigs
Extra-virgin olive oil
If using a fire pit: enough hardwood charcoal for a 2-by-3-foot pit.
If using a standard charcoal grill: 1 full chimney of hardwood charcoal
Start a charcoal fire in fire pit or grill. Use a grate the mussels won’t fall through. With grate off the fire, arrange mussels in an even layer. (If using a standard grill, cook mussels in 2 batches of 5 pounds each.) Arrange mussels in a circular mandala if desired.
When coals are white-hot, lay pine and rosemary boughs directly on top. (If using a standard grill, spread half the boughs for each batch.) Once ignited and beginning to smoke, lay grill grate covered with mussels directly on top.
Using tongs or mitts, rotate grate periodically for even cooking. Cook until all mussels are open, bubbling and cooked through, about 6–10 minutes.
Remove grate from coals and set on a trivet. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter generously with flake salt. Devour.