I love this particular recipe and like to cook from time to time, especially when I’m in the mood for those juicy, plump, tasty morsels. The tastes and flavours work really well together, especially with the ‘hopped up’ artisan cider.
A small knob of butter
1–2 tablespoons rapeseed, olive or sunflower oil
100g un-smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 large or 2 medium leeks, finely sliced
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
250ml medium-sweet cider
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2–3 tablespoons double cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plenty of chopped parsley, for garnish
Scrub the mussels and remove the wiry little ‘beards’ that are attached to the shells. Discard any open mussels that don’t close when given a sharp tap. Alternatively, purchase your mussels, already cleaned by your fishmonger.
Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter and oil. When the butter is foaming, add the bacon or pancetta and cook for 4–5 minutes. Stir in the leek, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 2–3 minutes, until the leek softens a little.
Turn the heat up high, pour in the cider and bring to the boil. Stir in the mustard, then tip in the mussels and place a lid on the pan.
Steam the mussels for 2–3 minutes, giving the pan a good shake once or twice. When the mussels have nearly all opened (discard any that remain firmly shut), stir in the cream.
Season with salt and pepper and serve in deep bowls, scattered with parsley and accompanied by plenty of bread – to soak up the sauce. If you’re feeling especially naughty, you could also serve frites on the side.
Drink suggestion: Zeffer “Hopped Pippin” Cider, Auckland,
Taken from Robert’s latest book: “An Epicurean Odyssey: More Sommelier Stories”
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