Saturday, 8 June 2013

Cider mussels

Happy Joe ciders invited bloggers to come up with fun and easy recipes to be enjoyed with their new organic apple cider. 

I immediately thought mussels. They work well with cider and these are actually cooked in cider too! A quick research revealed, however, that only last year in the previous recipe contest by the same brand one of the entries was in fact cider mussels. Back to the drawing board it is...I will share my own recipe with you guys anyway.

Mussels just don't get enough hype. There's no need to fear them - they're quick, easy and most importantly: being messy finger food, they're fun! Have some friends over and see for yourself!

These look fancier than they are so no-one will guess it took you less than 15 minutes  and five ingredients to make these.

As a main this feeds 2-3 people, in smaller bowls as party food or a starter this is enough for 4-6 people.

1 kg mussels (fresh  or frozen)
2 garlic cloves
4 shallots or 1 small regular onion 
75 grams of bacon cubes
a couple of sprigs of thyme
about 3 dl of dry apple cider
(1/2 - 1 dl cream)
salt, black pepper

If you're using fresh mussels, clean the mussels by brushing them and pulling out the beard. If using pre-cooked frozen ones, let them thaw. Here's a tip I just learn from another blog (originally by jubilant Mrs. Julia Childs): 

"Mix well about 1/2 dl of flour with 1/2 litres of water and let the mussels soak in the liquid for at least an hour. This way the mussels will clean themselves from any gunk (not sure Mrs. Julia would have put it quite like that) and plump up. Then pour the mussels into a sieve, drain and rinse well".

Heat a big pot, add the bacon cubes and let it crisp up. Add a little oil or butter of needed and then fry the onions and garlic in the bacon fat. 

If you really want to impress (ok, to show off) your guests with your Masterchef- like skills, you'll throw in a couple of sprigs of thyme too. A teaspoon of dried works too. Then add cider. Let it cook for about a minute until hot and then add mussels. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Throw away  the individuals that haven't opened (or serve to that friend who borrowed your favourite dress and broke the zip or the one who stole your boyfriend!) and serve them in their liquid. Check the taste before serving and season as needed - go easy on the salt though since especially if using fresh ones, the brininess should be enough.

If you prefer richer, creamier flavour, lift the mussels from the pot and keep covered. Add the cream into the pan and bring to boil. Stir and pour over the mussels. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve. Preferably with some good, rustic bread with which you can mop every last bit of the sauce.

Mussels also make great party food because there aren't much dishes to be  done afterwards either - they double as cutlery! As you've fished out the first golden nugget from its shell, you can use the shells as tweezers with which to prise remaining treats out of their shells. You can also use it to spoon the liquid, though slurping it is perfectly acceptable too...

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