This is a simple starter or lunch dish, though it is important to point out that the omelette must be eaten the moment it is cooked.
The wild garlic can be replaced with finely chopped chives when the garlic is out of season. The fresher the eggs are for your omelette, the more delicious it will be. Be careful not to overcook the omelette or it will become hard and tough and lose its delicate, tender texture.
I like some of the mussels to be visible when it arrives at the table, so I scatter a few over the cooked omelette. If I am having this as a lunch dish, I serve it with a simple leaf salad dressed with an olive oil vinaigrette. When served as a starter, as in this meal, I serve it with thinly sliced brown bread and butter.
- 16 fresh mussels
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 50ml dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons cream
- 1–2 tablespoons finely chopped wild garlic leaves or fresh chives
- 4 free-range eggs
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10g butter
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 dessertspoon wild garlic flowers or chive flowers, if available, to garnish
- To check that all the mussels are fresh and alive before cooking, ensure they are tightly closed. If some of the shells are slightly open, tap them on your worktop – if they don’t show signs of movement and appear to be closing, then leave them for a moment. Tap the ones you are unsure of again, and if there are still no signs of life, discard them. It is not crucial to remove the mussel’s little hairy beard before cooking, as you will have the chance to do that when removing the meat from the shell when cooked.
- Place the mussels, thyme and wine in a small low-sided saucepan and cover with a tight-fitting lid. I sometimes use a Pyrex plate as the lid so that I can see the mussels opening.
- Place on a gentle heat and cook for a few minutes, until the mussels have popped open. It may be necessary to remove the opened mussels from the pan at intervals as invariably they never all open at the same time. Be careful not to overcook the mussels or they will become shrivelled and tough.
- If some of the mussels refuse to open, just discard them, as occasionally they are full of fine sand that will spoil your dish. As with any shellfish, use and trust your sense of smell. If any of the mussels smell strong and fishy and not sweetly fresh, then discard those too.
- Sieve the mussel cooking liquid, return it to the saucepan, raise the heat and reduce by half.
- Add the cream and allow to bubble and reduce again to achieve a slightly syrupy or light coating consistency. Allow to cool.
- Debeard the mussels by removing the little tuft of fibrous hair, then remove the mussels from the shells.
- Add them to the liquid along with the chopped wild garlic leaves and give them a gentle stir to mix. This can now be chilled for reheating later.
- When you are ready to make the omelette, place a heavy non-stick or cast iron pan on a high heat. Have a warm but not scalding-hot serving plate ready.
- Beat the eggs thoroughly but don’t overdo it – if the eggs become too airy, the texture of the cooked omelette will be bubble filled and won’t be as good. Season with salt and pepper.
- Reheat the mussels on a very gentle heat to just warm them through.
- Add the butter and olive oil to the omelette pan. Swirl to cover the base of the pan and to coat the sides to a height of 3cm. Make sure the butter is sizzling hot before adding all the beaten egg mixture in one go.
- Swirl the liquid egg around the bottom of the pan to create an even layer. Holding the handle of the pan in one hand and an egg slice in the other, tilt the pan away from you.
- With the aid of the slice, distribute the liquid egg to ensure it cooks quickly and evenly. Draw the cooked omelette from the sides of the pan towards the centre as you go and allow the uncooked and still liquid egg to run to the edges, where it will cook more quickly.
- Swirl any remaining uncooked egg around the edge of the pan to finish cooking it. The omelette should be cooked in about 15 seconds.
- Remove the pan from the heat and quickly add three-quarters of the mussels, placing them in a line along the middle of the omelette from one side to the other.
- Fold over the omelette and slide it onto the warmed plate. Spoon the remaining mussels and sauce over the omelette, garnish with wild garlic or chive flowers and serve immediately.