Friday, 14 February 2014

Spain on a plate

Last weekend's pilgrimage to Museokatu produced a bag of mussels. Big, meaty... and cheap - a kilo will set you back less than €7! It'd been a while since my last foray into the magnificent world of molluscs so I dived right in. I highly recommend you do too as though they might seem exotic and high maintenance, they're everything but. Serve them as tapas, have your friends over to share a pot or make them the centrepiece of a romantic dinner for two...! And no matter how you prepare them, they take practically no time at all - you'll have a steaming pot of delicious treats at your table in under 15 minutes!

Sherry is used for cooking in Spain especially around the regions of Cadiz and Jerez - that is the sherry country where this nectar is produced too. Much like with flan de naranja, idea for these came from Rick Stein's tour of Spain, though I did have something similar at the dinner at Goce.

But you've come to know me enough to guess I wouldn't stop there. I got a bit carried away and the result was my personal love letter to everything Spain is to me. Jamón Serrano, garlic, chili, saffron, sherry, orange... Just look at the list - could that even be bad?

The party we gathered around the pot to enjoy a leisurely Sunday lunch certainly didn't think so.

As tapas this is enough for 8-10, as a meal this feeds about 4-5

1 kg mussels
100 g Serrano ham
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
a pinch of saffron
1 chilli
finely grates zest of 1/2 large orange
1 dl (Olorosa) sherry
3 dl cream
black pepper, (salt)

to serve: spring onions/ parsley

Rinse and clean the mussels. Slice the ham into strips. Heat some oil or butter in a pan and let the ham crisp up a bit. Then add orange zest, finely sliced onion, garlic and half of the chilli. After a minute or so pour in sherry and saffron. 

Cook over high heat for a couple of minutes, add cream and keep cooking a little while longer. Season with pepper, but like always with mussels - hold the salt until after you've cooked them as they do add a fair bit of brininess. Add mussels and cook, covered for 3-5 minutes. Discard the ones that haven't opened. Scatter rest of the chilli on top along with parsley (if you remembered to buy any) or spring onions. Serve with good, chilled white wine, rustic bread and your loved ones. Happy Valentine's day everyone!




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