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In my mind there is something really summery about tucking into a bowl of mussels. Even though I eat them year round, they never fail to evoke a fantasy of being in a beach side bistro with the sand between my toes eating the day’s fresh catch.
Last year on an astoundingly beautiful beach in Portugal, I saw teeny tiny mussels growing on the rocks- I’d never seen it before and they were so small yet perfectly formed that there were literally thousands of them carpeting the rock surfaces.
Back in the real world, more often a not I buy my mussels on the butcher counter of the supermarket, or if I can get there, Bolton Market.
I’ve not been able to drinks cider since a nasty incident in my teens involving a vast amount of White Lightening and a knock to the head, but I do like to cook with it. The booze burns off, but if you’re a bit iffy about cooking with alcohol get down to a farm shop and buy a bottle of really good local apple juice which is crisp and sharp. Round these parts we can get excellent Cheshire Apple juice which I recommend.
This is so simple, the key is to prep everything first because once you get the pan on, it is done is a matter of minutes.. So clean your mussels and have everything to hand by the side of the hob.
Mussels in Cider … or Moules Cidré if you want to sound a wee bit posh!
- 1 bag of mussels – approx 1kg
- Dry, still cider – 300ml
- Double cream – 2-3 tbsp
- Smoked back bacon 2 slices, diced ( or use pancetta or lardons)
- Shallots – 2, thinly sliced
- Garlic – 2 cloves, grated or thinly sliced
- Parsley- large handful
- Olive or groundnut oil
What you do
- Firstly and most important, clean you mussels. Pull out the beards, and rinse then over and over until you are happy they are clean. That grit is not pleasant if it gets into the sauce. Remember, if they are broken, bin them. If they don’t open when you tap them, bin them. Food poisoning is worse than that cider incident mentioned above. Not cool
- Next, prep everything else. Chop your bacon, slice your onions and crush your garlic (I do all garlic in my mini chopper so it’s nice and small and minced). Chop your parsley leaves or simply rip them if you are happy with it being more chunky in the final dish
- Heat about 2 tsp of oil in a large frying pan or sauté pan
- Add the bacon, garlic and half the shallots and to the hot oil, turn the heat down slightly and cook for 3-4 minutes until the bacon is crispy
- Add the cream – use 2 or 3 tbsp to your own taste, and the rest of the the shallot. Season with pepper. Bring back to a boil and stir well for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens slightly and reduces
- Carefully put your mussels in the pan and add the cider. Turn the heat up, let the cider start to bubble then turn the heat down to a bubble and put a tight lid on it
- Things will happen quickly. Take the lid off every 90 seconds and check. It will take anywhere from about 4 to 10 minutes depending on the amount of mussels, size of pan
- As soon as they are all opened, add the parsley and allow to wilt for a seconds
- Serve in the pan at the table, or carefully decant into individual serving bowls
Last reminder – if they are closed now, don’t prise open and eat them. Discard them.
Enjoy with lots of crusty bread, and make sure you have finger bowls or napkins and a bowl for empty shells to hand
I want to try more mussels so if you have a good recipe which is out of get he ordinary please let me know. Also, this was a really beardy batch so if you have any tips for cleaning them I would love to hear from you!
And remember when you are eating them, you’re in that beach side bistro with the sand beneath your feet…