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The highly aromatic and dense smoke pine provides is the perfect touch to these mollusks.

Chef Barton Seaver is Director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at Harvard’s School of Public Health, and a damn good cookbook author. His new book, Where There’s Smoke, is on our list of spring must-reads. Next up, mussels on the grill with a piney twist.

This is a dish that captured my heart many years ago. I read about it, éclade des moules, in some novel, possibly Dickens or Eleanor Clark. This preparation has roots in a French seaside tradition of a large cookout similar to a New England clambake. Pine is usually avoided in barbecue circles, as the resinous smoke can be overpowering and bitter. But given the quick cooking time of mussels, this highly aromatic and dense smoke is a perfect touch.

I like to serve these with tarragon aioli, as the cool flavor of tarragon softens the pitch flavor of pine. But any way you present this, it is an impressive undertaking and one that is sure to have all your guests gathered around the grill to watch. The Normandy region on the northern coast of France is famous for its fermented apple cider. Effervescent, dry, and low in alcohol, it is an amazingly great partner to this dish.

Reprinted with permission from Where There’s Smoke