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Posts Tagged ‘Mussels’

Mouclade

Not our first mouclade, as we’ve made many variations over the years, but we particularly liked this one by Diana Henry as the saffron gives the sauce a fantastic colour. A very popular summer lunch dish. You will need some bread for mopping up the sauce.

Wine Suggestion: we went Spanish today and paired this with a wine made predominantly of Treixadura but with small amounts of Godello, Albariño and Loureiro too. Made by Pazo Casanova in the DO Ribeiro which is on the Spanish section of the Minho River this is fresh and citrussy with hints of white flowers and stone fruit on the nose and a mid-weight, textured finish. While we don’t drink much Treixadura we were tempted by the addition of the other grapes which we knew would work with the dish and we can now add this rarer, indigenous Spanish variety to our repetoire of seafood loving wines.

Mouclade – serves 4

  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2kg mussels
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ tsp medium curry powder
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 200ml dry white wine
  • 200ml double cream
  • generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Put the saffron in a cup with 5 tbsp of boiling water, then leave aside for 30 minutes.

Wash the mussels, remove any beards and crusty bits and throw away open mussels that don’t closed when given a sharp tap on the side of the sink.

Melt the butter in a pan and gently sauté the onion until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the brandy and boil until reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Reduce the heat, then stir in the flour and mix well until smooth. Cook for  a minute, then take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the saffron water. Set aside.

Put the wine and mussels into a large sauce and cover. Bring the boil and cook over a med-high heat for about 4 minutes, shaking now and then, until the mussels have opened. Strain the mussels in a colander, over a bowl to collect the cooking liquid. Cover the mussels to keep warm while you finish the sauce.

Strain the mussel cooking liquid through a J-cloth, then gently reheat the saffron sauce. Gradually stir in the mussel liquid, then bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Add the cream and simmer for 4 minutes or until reduced and a little thicker. Season to taste and stir through the parsley.

Put the mussels into a large serving bowl, pour over the sauce and serve.

(Original recipe from How to Eat a Peach by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2018.)

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Paella Mixta

This is not an authentic paella recipe but we guarantee it will remind you of days in the sun. It’s made in the oven from start to finish and all you have to do is add the ingredients in the correct order.

Wine Suggestion: Spanish influenced wine it has to be. If it’s baking hot try a dry, Garnacha Rosé, though for us tonight it had to be red as it was cool and wet. The choice was a little left-field as it was from Teruel, an old, abandoned wine region (caused by the de-population of country areas during their civil war) being rehabilitated by a couple of young winemakers making their own way. The Bodegas Jesus Romero Quercus is garnacha, tempranillo, syrah and a little cabernet franc planted in poor, stony soils with excellent drainage and elevation near Valencia. We are really impressed each time we taste this, and a good match for the dish too!

Paella Mixta – serves 4

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g paella rice
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut in half
  • 200g chorizo, sliced
  • 85g frozen peas
  • 150g raw king prawns
  • 250g mussels, cleaned and throw away those that won’t close when tapped
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • a small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Put the onion and garlic into the base of a large, shallow, ovenproof pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, then toss to coat. Put into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the onion has started to brown. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overdo.

Meanwhile, put the tin of tomatoes, the chicken stock, the smoked paprika and saffron into a saucepan and heat until piping hot.

Remove the onions from the oven and stir in the rice, chicken, chorizo and hot stock mixture. Season and return to the oven for 20 minutes (uncovered).

Gently stir through the peas and arrange the mussels and prawns on the top. The mussel hinges should be facing downwards. Arrange the lemon wedges around the edge and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the mussels have opened and everything else is cooked. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened. Scatter over the parsley and serve. Finger bowls and napkins essential!

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Mussels with Ditalini & Tomatoes

We love mussels on a Friday, so cheap and quick to cook, but still so special and luxurious. We halved the pasta to serve 2 but kept everything else the same – a feast!

Wine Suggestion: Digging into the lockdown cellar again and the Sugrue, Trouble with Dreams 2014 came to hand. A beautifully precise and focussed sparkling from the South Downs in England. If this isn’t to hand a good traditional method, double fermented sparkling would be a good choice too.

Mussels with Ditalini & Tomatoes – serves 4

  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed, remove any beards and throw away any that are open and don’t close when tapped
  • 250g ditalini pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 80ml red vermouth, we used Martini Rosso
  • 4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook the pasta according to the time on the pack in lots of very salty water.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide pan that has a lid. Add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes to soften, over a medium-high heat.

Add the garlic, chilli and sea salt, then keep stirring until the tomatoes start to melt and make a juice. Add the vermouth and bubble up to get rid of the alcohol, then stir.

Add mussels and cover with the lid. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until the mussels have opened, give the pan a good shake now and then. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened.

Drain the pasta and reserve a little cooking water. Add the pasta to the mussel pan with 2 tbsp of the pasta water. Stir everything together, put the lid back on and leave for a minute or two off the heat. Stir in most of the parsley, then scatter the rest on top.

(Original recipe from At My Table by Nigella Lawson, Chatto & Windus, 2017.)

Mussels with ditalini & tomatoes

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Pan-fried Salmon with Curried Mussels

How disappointed we were when we left it too late to get mussels from our local fish shop last Saturday. So this ended up being dinner on Thursday – a bit fancier than what we usually serve on a weeknight but to be honest we’ve lost track of what day it is anyway! Plenty of pans needed for this dish but it’s worth it.

Wine Suggestion: this needs a white to match that can stand up to a rich, creamy base. Sometimes it also necessary to choose not only a type of wine but also a producer … we suggest cultivating a good wine shop to help with this. Tonight we had a Txakoli, a local wine from near San Sebastion in Spain made from Hondarrabi Zuri. Normally very light and with a spritz-freshness and great with lighter seafood dishes and other tapas. The Astobiza Txakoli we had was fuller bodied while still maintaining the texture, saltiness and freshness of a more typical wine of the region and thus able to step up to the rich creaminess of the food.

As Txakoli isn’t as easy to find we’d also suggest a fuller, textural Albarino as an option.

Pan-fried salmon with curried mussels – serves 4

  • 4 salmon fillets with the skin on, about 120g each
  • vegetable oil

FOR THE MUSSELS:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1kg mussels, scrub them clean, rip off any beards and chuck any that don’t close when you tap them
  • 225ml white wine

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1 tsp medium curry powder
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g potatoes, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • lemon

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Start with the mussels. Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a large, heavy pan, with a lid. Add the onions and parsley and cook gently until soft. Add the mussels, salt and pepper and wine. Bring to the boil, then cover and give the pan a shake. Cook for a few minutes or until the mussels have opened (throw away any that don’t open).

Strain the mussels but keep the cooking liquid. Pour the liquid through a fine sieve to get rid of any grit. Remove the mussels from the shells and set aside.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion, carrot and celery and sweat over a low heat, with the lid on, until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cook for another few minutes. Stir in 150ml of the mussel cooking liquid and cook for another minute. You can turn the heat off now and leave the sauce aside while you cook the salmon.

Dry the salmon well with kitchen paper, then slash the skin diagonally a few times with a sharp knife. Season well.

Heat a non-stick, oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat, the add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Cook the salmon, skin-side down for 4-5 minutes or until the skin is crispy. Don’t be tempted to move it around. Turn the salmon fillets over and put the pan in the oven for another few minutes to finish cooking.

Stir the double cream into the sauce and bring back to the boil, add the potato and cook until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the mussels to the sauce and warm through briefly. Add the chives and a squeeze of lemon to the sauce and taste for seasoning. Serve the sauce with the salmon on top.

(Original recipe by Bryn Williams in Olive Magazine, April 2011.)

 

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Spicy fish soup

We often have fish on Fridays. It’s quick to cook and light enough that we’ve room for cheese afterwards. Mussels are a favourite too and they’re fantastic value. This soup by Nigel Slater is crammed with them, and full of flavour.

Wine suggestion:  an old favourite white wine, the always versatile ALLO by Quinta Soalheiro. Light bodied so it doesn’t overwhelm the delicate play of flavours in the dish, but textured and concentrated at the same time. A wine that is the sommeliers’ secret weapon for matching.

Spiced fish soup – serves 2

  • 1kg mussels, scrubbed, de-bearded, chuck any with broken shells or that don’t close when you give them a sharp tap
  • 2 large banana shallots, peeled and separated into layers
  • a splash of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 250g white fish fillet – we used hake – cut into 4 pieces
  • a handful of chopped coriander

Put the cleaned mussels into a large pan and add 500ml of water. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil and cook until the mussels have opened (a couple of minutes).

Remove the mussels from the liquid but keep the cooking water, you need to strain this through a fine sieve. Remove the mussels from the shells and set aside.

Heat a splash of oil in a deep frying pan, then fry the shallots over a gentle heat until softened. Add the mustard seeds, chilli powder and turmeric, and continue cooking for another few minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.

Pour in the reserved mussel stock, bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Lay the pieces of fish in the liquid and cook briefly until opaque (just a couple of minutes should do it). Return the mussels to the pan, season to taste with salt, and stir in the coriander.

(Original recipe from Eat by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2013.)

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Spicy Dalboka Mussels

We cooked these mussels on Friday night form Caroline Eden’s ‘Black Sea’. A book that is as good to read as to look at. The recipe is Bulgarian with the mussels cooked in a spicy tomato soup. You will need lots of crusty white bread to go with.

Wine Suggestion: This pairs superbly with a good new world Pinot Noir, ideally from a producer that values freshness. If you can push the boat out a bit we’d suggest a Felton Road from Central Otago or a Tyler from Santa Barbera but tonight it was Newton Johnson’s Felicite from Hermanus to equally good effect.

Spicy Dalboka Mussels – serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

  • 500g mussels, scrubbed and beards and barnacles removed (chuck any that don’t close tightly when tapped)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp chilli powder/pul biber (Turkish pepper flakes)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 10 pink peppercorns, crushed
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • a decent handful of spinach (or lovage when it’s around)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • small bunch of dill, chopped
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped

Warm the olive oil in a large heavy-based casserole, then sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, chilli, paprika and peppercorns, then the stock, vinegar and tomatoes – simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn the heat up to hight and add the mussels, spinach and salt. Cover and steam for a few minutes or until the mussels have opened (don’t eat any that haven’t opened).

Take the pan off the heat and add the lemon juice and herbs. Serve in bowls with lots of crusty white bread.

(Original recipe from Black Sea by Caroline Eden, Quadrille, 2018.)

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Mussels & cockles with garlic breadcrumbs

This is a great starter from Polpo that tastes similar to stuffed mussels but is nowhere near as fiddly to prepare. We used cockles instead of clams as that is what we could get the day we cooked this.

Wine Suggestion: we’d suggest a white from central or sourther Italy for this dish. Tonight it was a Verdicchio from the Marches, the Tralivio by the Sartarelli family which combines citrus, apricots and wild herbs with texture, body and hints of a bitter almond on the finish. Very attractive, refreshing and a perfect food wine.

Mussels & Clams with Garlic Breadcrumbs – serves 4 – 6 as a starter

  • 100g old bread
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a small handful of flat parsley leaves, chopped
  • a large pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • flaky sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 1kg clams
  • 100ml white wine
  • bread, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.

Tear the old bread into pieces, then scatter over a baking tray and pour over plenty of olive oil over them. Put the tray into the oven for 5 minutes or until the bread is crisp and golden, then set aside.

When the bread has cooled blitz it in food processor with the chopped parsley, half the dried chilli, half the garlic and some seasoning. When the bread has turned to fine crumbs, taste some and adjust the seasoning and add some more oil if they are too dry.

Clean the mussels and clams in cold running water and discard any that are damaged or that stay open when tapped.

Heat a large pan and add some olive oil. Throw in the mussels and clams with the rest of the chilli and garlic and stir until the shells start to open. As they do, pour in the white wine and cover the pan with a lid. The shells should all have opened after a couple of minutes, throw away any that haven’t opened.

Add a handful of breadcrumbs to the pan to thicken the sauce. Spoon the mussels and clams into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the rest of the crumbs. Serve immediately with crusty bread if you like.

(Original recipe from Polpo by Russel Norman, Bloomsbury, 2012.)

 

 

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Mussels with red onions, cider and creme fraiche

We associate mussels with cold weather and cook them often in the darker months. Makes no sense really when we’ve no issue eating buckets of them in the sunshine on holidays. We loved the creamy sauce on these – crusty bread essential!

Wine Suggestion: it feels natural to use the cider you cook with as the accompaniment. Our choice was the artisanale and organic Cidrerie le Maitre, a very new, young producer in Brittany we stumbled upon by following little signs off the main roads into a winding, forgotten lane in the middle of the French countryside. Daniel le Maitre uses 12 ancient local varieties of apples and the result is dry, very fruity and appley but with a wonderful texture of apple skins and a great depth of flavour which makes it a great food match. A happy discovery, and their Cider Vinegar is also a good addition to our cupboard too.

Mussels with Red Onion, Cider & Crème Fraîche – serves 2

  • 1kg mussels
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 150ml dry cider
  • 2 tsp finely chopped sage
  • 150ml crème fraîche

Scrub the mussels, and discard if open and they won’t close when you give them a sharp tap.

Melt the butter in a large pan, cook the onions for a few minutes, then add the garlic. Pour the cider over and add the sage, then bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until reduced by half.

Add the mussels, then cover and cook over a medium heat (shaking the pan occasionally) for 3-4 mins or until they have opened. Lift the mussels into a bowl and keep warm.

Bubble the cooking liquid in the pan for a couple of minutes, then gradually blend in the crème fraîche. Heat the sauce through and pour over the mussels to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Mouclade

We mainly eat mussels in the colder months – something to do with months with an r in the them, but also they just seem like cold weather food to us. They’re so cheap and yet such a treat. This is typical Friday night food in our house, served with crusty bread or fries. La Mouclade is a French recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey and includes a creamy curry sauce – delicious!

Wine Suggestion: As this dish comes from the Charentes region of France, we sipped some chilled Pineau des Charentes as an aperitif and then a glass of Bordeaux Blanc. While we would have loved to have found some Right Bank Bordeaux Ch Monbousquet or Valandraud Blanc we had some Chateau Bouscaut Blanc from the Graves instead. A Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon blend with some barrel aging after fermentation in stainless steel. Great with seafood and able to stand up to the curry and saffron.

La Mouclade – serves 4

  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1.75 kg mussels, cleaned
  • 120ml dry white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp good-quality medium curry powder
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley

Put the saffron into a small bowl with a tablespoon of warm water.

Put the mussels and wine into a large saucepan, cover and cook over a hight heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels have opened. Tip them into a colander over a bowl to catch the liquid. Transfer the mussels to a large serving bowl and keep warm.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic and curry powder and cook gently for a few minutes. Add the cognac and cook until almost evaporated, then stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Gradually stir in the saffron liquid and the mussel liquid (leave the very last gritty bit behind). Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Add the crème fraîche and simmer for another few minutes, until slightly reduced. Season to taste, stir in the parsley and pour the sauce over the mussels .

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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Mussels cooked in cider

There’s been a bottle of Normandy Cider in our fridge door and we’ve been saving it for a dish like this. Fabulous and fresh for a Friday night with lots of crusty baguette. Serve with a generous glass of cider.

Mussels cooked in Cider – serves 4

  • 2.5kg mussels
  • 15g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated or crushed
  • 6 rashers of rindless streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 400ml dry cider
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives

Scrub the mussels and remove any barnacles and beards. Throw away any open shells that don’t close when you tap them on the edge of the sink.

Put a large saucepan over a medium heat. Melt the butter in the warm pan, then add the onion, garlic & bacon and cook gently for about 6 minutes or until the onion is softened.

Pour in the cider, bring to a simmer and simmer for a minute before adding the mussels and covering with a tight-fitting lids. Turn the heat up hight and cook for 3-4 minutes until the mussels have opened, giving the pan a shake occasionally. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened.

Drain the mussels in a colander over a bowl to catch the cooking liquid, then return to the pot to keep warm. Pour the cooking juices through a sieve into a pan, add the cream and herbs and bring to the boil, seasoning with salt & pepper.

Divide the mussels between 4 bowls and pour over the hot sauce, then serve with crusty bread.

(Original recipe from Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen, Harper Collins, 2013.)

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Mussel & fennel risottoWe really liked this tasty risotto made with delicious stock from the mussels. Jules bought half the quantity of mussels (in error!) but it was no worse for it. The sort of thing we like to eat on a Friday night with a glass of something bubbly.

Wine Suggestion: As we have a few bottles of Sparkling Saumur lying around after our summer holiday to the Loire this year, we automatically gravitated to this and found it a good match. This time we opened the Bouvet-Ladubay Trésor blanc, a blend of mostly Chenin Blanc with some Chardonnay. Fresh and vibrant but with the quality of fruit to stand up to the food. Cost aside, we don’t know why more sparkling wines aren’t matched with food.

Mussel & fennel risotto – serves 4

  • 1.75kg mussels, cleaned thoroughly (discard any that don’t close when you hit them off the side of the sink)
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • a few parsley stalks
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, trimmed & diced
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 50ml dry vermouth
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Put the mussels into a large saucepan over a medium heat with the white wine, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until opened. Shake the pan a couple of times as they cook.

Strain over a bowl to catch the cooking liquor and remove the mussels from their shells. Throw away any that haven’t opened.

Strain the liquor through a sieve lined with muslin to catch any grit, then heat until simmering gently.

Heat 5 tbsp olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté the onion, garlic and fennel over a medium heat until the onion is soft but not coloured. Stir in the risotto rice. Pour on the vermouth, then add the mussel liquor a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously. The rice should be cooked after about 20 minutes. Add some water if you run out of mussel liquor.

Stir in the mussels, parsley, lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

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Thai mussels with coconut, chilli & lime

Mussels are a frequent Friday night feature in our house. This Thai inspired method tastes great and it looks very pretty too.

Wine Suggestion: this works with light, fruity and gently aromatic whites and our choice this evening was the Colterenzio Gewürztraminer from the Alto Adige in north-eastern Italy. A dry style but with lovely delicate fruit and subtle aromatics showing its cooler climate roots.

Thai mussels with coconut, chilli & lime – serves 4

  • 2kg mussels
  • 1½ tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced finely into long strips
  • 2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips (or grated zest of a lime)

TO SERVE:

  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips (or grated zest of a lime)
  • 4 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
  • ½ a red chilli, deseeded and shredded

Wash the mussels in a few changes of cold water and remove any beards and barnacles. Discard any that don’t close when you tap them on the side of the sink.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger & chillies. Cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, sugar & lime leaves. Bring almost to the boil, then add the mussels.

Cover and cook for 4 minutes or until the mussels have opened, give the pan a good shake now and then. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened and serve in a large bowl with the lime leaves, coriander and chilli scattered over the top.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2011)

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Mussels with chorizo & spiced fries 1

One of our least favourite kitchen jobs is scrubbing mussels but they’re always worth it in the end. This chorizo sauce and spicy fries make a great casual dinner.

Wine Suggestion: Chill a Spanish red for 30-40 minutes. A good choice could be the Jesus Romero Rubus, and unoaked blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha & Syrah which has a brilliant purity and drive. Alternately, and contradicting our initial thoughts, a big robust Ribera del Duero, the Condado de Haza also worked a treat chilled down with this dish.

  • 250g skinny oven fries
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • olive oil
  • 125g chorizo, diced
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 200ml white wine
  • 125g tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned

Heat the oven to whatever heat suggested on the pack of fries. Toss the fries with 1 tsp of the paprika and some seasoning, spread out on an oven tray and cook until crispy.

Put 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan that you have tight-fitting lid for. Add the chorizo and fry until crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, 1 tsp of paprika, chilli and thyme springs to the pan. Cook over a low heat until softened, then turn the heat up, return the chorizo to the pan and add the wine, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, lots of black pepper and a little salt. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir the mussels into the chorizo sauce, cover with a lid and steam for 3-4 minutes, shaking now and then, until the mussels have opened. Serve in bowls with the spicy fries on the side.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, July 2014.)

Mussels with chorizo & spiced fries 2

 

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Mussels with chorizo and cider

We had a hankering for mussels, as we often do, and thought this sounded a bit different. There’s no finishing of the sauce required once the mussels are cooked unlike other classic mussel dishes. Last minute finishing can be fiddly, especially with guests, so this worked well for us. Easily scalable, provided you have a big pot, and a good party dish.

Wine Suggestion: we used Stonewell Dry Cider from Kinsale in County Cork for this dish which has a really good depth of flavour and it would equally work well as the accompaniment. Some ciders are lighter but the robust nature of the chorizo and mussels needed a more robust flavour like the Stonewell.

Alternately if you would prefer to drink some wine we’d suggest a good South African Chenin Blanc, like Adi Badenhorst’s Secateurs. The ripe yellow apple flavours are a good compliment and the freshness, texture and zing provide a good balance. The Secateurs is a great go-to wine in our house and we highly recommend it!

Spanish mussels with cider & chorizo – serves 4

  • 2kg mussels
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g chorizo, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500ml dry cider
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Wash the mussels really well and scrape off any barnacles and beardy bits. Tap any opened mussels on the sink and throw them away if they don’t close.

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and sauté the chorizo with the onions until slightly coloured and softened. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the mussels, cider and some black pepper, then cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and steam until the mussels have opened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve.

(Original recipe from Food From Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

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Mussels with Parma ham

Ham gives a nice salty twist to mussels so be careful when adding any additional seasoning. We have lots of herbs growing in the garden at this time of year and are always looking for excuses to use them.

Wine Suggestion: This was an harder match than expected given the combination of salty sea flavours and the richness of the ham. Given the layers of savoury flavours we complemented this with a dry Amontillado sherry, the Hidalgo “Napoleon” which has the Umami richness to match. It also has a great nuttiness that added something extra and also a very complementary hint of fresh sea air in it’s flavour.

Mussels with Bayonne ham – 3-4

  • 1.5kg mussels
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 50g butter
  • 1 shallot
  • 75g Bayonne or prosciutto ham
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1 handful of mixed herbs – we used parsley, tarragon & chives
  • crusty bread to serve

Scrub the mussels clean and discard any that don’t close when tapped on a hard surface.

Add 2 tbsp of the wine to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes or until opened. Give the pan a shake every now and then and discard any mussels that remain closed. Take off the heat and strain in a colander over a large bowl to catch the liquid. Reserve the liquid and keep the mussels warm.

In the same pan, melt the butter and cook the shallot, ham and garlic for 4-5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the mussel cooking liquid and the rest of the wine wine. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half. Add the mussels and herbs and mix well, then season with black pepper.

(Original recipe by Rick Stein)

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Mussels in a creamy sauce

We can’t get enough of mussels and love them in any kind of sauce. This is a nice easy one to serve 2 with some crusty bread (or hot chips!).

Wine Suggestion: try to find a good Alvarinho from Vinho Verde in Portugal. We’re big fans of Soalheiro whose wines have a delicious vibrancy and freshness that really work with mussels.

Mussels in a Creamy Sauce – serves 2

  • 1kg mussels
  • 250ml white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 parsley stalks
  • few thyme sprigs
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 100ml single cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves

Scrub the mussels under cold water, scraping off any beards or barnacles. Discard any that are damaged or those that don’t close completely when tapped against the sink.

Put the mussels in a large pan with the wine, butter, bay leaf, parsley stalks, thyme and shallot. Cover, bring to the boil and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the mussels have opened. Drain, keeping the cooking liquor, and discard any mussels that have not opened. Discard the parsley stalks and bay leaf.

Put the cooked mussels into two serving bowls and keep warm. Return the cooking liquor to the pot and boil rapidly until slightly thickened. Now pour in the cream and add the chopped parsley and cook gently until thickened further. Season, then pour over the mussels and serve immediately.

(Original recipe by Greg Wallace for BBC Good Food Magazine, February 2008.)

 

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Ditaloni, mussels & white wine

A scrumptious and deliciously rich pasta dish that works perfectly as a starter.

Wine Suggestion: A textured white works best here; old-world minerality rather than bright fruit-forward styles. The Casal di Serra Verdicchio from Umani Ronchi in the Marche (central Italy) combines stonefruit flavours, hints of wild-flowers on the nose and a crisp yellow apple finish and goes with the richness and depth of the pasta.

Ditaloni, mussels & white wine – serves 4

  • 1kg small mussels, scrubbed
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin oil
  • 125ml white wine
  • 165ml double cream
  • 300g ditaloni (or similar) pasta

Heat half the butter with the oil, then add the garlic and mussels. Pour in the wine; season, then cover and cook over a high heat until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels from the shells; discard the shells and any mussels that haven’t opened.

Heat the rest of the butter in a pan and add the mussel juices and the cream. Cook gently to reduce to a rich and creamy sauce. Then add the mussels and parsley.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, then drain and add to the sauce. Toss together over a low heat, and serve.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Clarkson Potter, 2006.)

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Moules Marinière

We love this Normandy classic and have been known to make Moules Marinières as an impromptu supper served with some skinny fries or crusty bread. No other dish is as reminiscent of holidays in France and mussels are also very cheap. What could be better? 

Wine Suggestion: You can’t go wrong with a good old Muscadet here. Just the thing to complement the dish and shouldn’t blow the budget. Unfortunately Muscadet has had a few good quality but low quantity vintages so it may be a bit more scarce than usual. 

Moules Marinière – to serve 4

  • 2kg mussels
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • a small handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  •  50g butter, chilled
  • 150ml water
  • 150ml dry white wine

Melt half the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and shallots and sweat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the water, wine and half the parsley and simmer for 5-10 minute. 

Add the mussels, cover the pan quickly with a tight lid and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes, giving the pan a good shake occasionally. Check if the mussels are open, if most of them are still closed, cover and cook for another minute or two, or until opened. 

Drain the mussels in a colander over a bowl to catch the liquid and discard any that haven’t opened. Cover the mussels with a pan lid to keep them warm. Pour the mussel liquid back into the pan and boil until it has a strong concentrated flavour. Reduce the heat. 

Cut up the remaining butter into small pieces and whisk into the sauce, piece by piece. Taste and season. 

Transfer the mussels to a serving bowl, pour over the sauce and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. 

(Original recipe from Leiths: How to Cook, Quadrille, 2013.)

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La Mouclade

A traditional French dish of steamed mussels with a light creamy, curry sauce. Serve with lots of crusty bread.

La mouclade – to serve 4

  • A good pinch of saffron threads
  • 1.75kg mussels, cleaned
  • 120ml dry white wine
  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp medium curry powder (buy a good quality one)
  • 2 tbsp cognac
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley

Moisten the saffron with a tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl.

Put the mussels and wine in a large pot, cover and cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan now and then, until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels in a colander set over a bowl to catch the cooking liquor. Put the mussels in a large serving bowl and keep warm.

Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion, garlic and curry powder and cook gently, without browning, for a few minutes. Add the cognac and cook until almost evaporated, then stir in the flour and cook for another minute. Gradually stir in the saffron liquid and all but the last tablespoon or so of the mussel liquor (so you avoid any grit). Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the crème fraîche and simmer for another 3 minutes, until reduced a bit. Season, stir in the parsley and pour the sauce over the mussels.

Wine Suggestion: A classic match for this dish is a white Bordeaux where the fresh grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc is complemented by the richness of Semillon and structure from a bit of oak. Almost an exotic combination with the mouclade, but perfect.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, BBC Books, 2005.)

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The sauce for these mussels is a revelation: full of wonderful flavours and balance, rich and yet light. Don’t be afraid of the amount of whiskey you put in either – it really works.

Irish Whiskey Mussels – to serve 6

  • 2kg mussels
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 stick of celery
  • knob of butter
  • 250g undyed smoked haddock, skin removed and pin-boned
  • 150ml Irish whiskey – we used Green Spot
  • 200ml double cream
  • small bunch of flat-leaf parsley
Wash and debeard the mussels and throw any that won’t close away.

Finely slice the leek and celery (keep the yellow celery leaves for sprinkling over at the end). Put a wide, deep pot on a medium heat and add some olive oil and a knob of butter, along with the leek and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft then flake in the smoked haddock and pour in the whiskey. Set the pan alight and wait until the flames die down – mind your eyebrows.

Add the mussels and double cream. Stir well, put the lid on the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the mussels have all popped open – throw away any that stay closed. Move the mussels to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Bubble the cooking liquor until it thickens. Roughly chop the parsley and add to the pot. Taste the sauce for seasoning and pour it all over the mussels Scatter the celery leaves over and serve with bread or skinny chips.

(Original recipe Highland Mussels by Jamie Oliver from Jamie’s Great Britain, Penguin 2011.)

Wine Suggestion: Pick a nice dry and good quality German Riesling which should give you racy acidity, minerality and Riesling flavours which work well with the mussels and smoked haddock. We had a stunning example from Wagner Stempel – well worth checking out this up and coming producer from the Rheinhessen region (infamously known for Liebfraumilch!). Or you could always have a shot of whiskey!

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