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Mussels cooked in Cider / Moules Marinières

This is a delicious yet simple recipe, which uses the best natural ingredients to make a wholesome and inexpensive meal. The mussels can be eaten as a starter or a main course accompanied by fresh bread & salad. Alternatively you can serve the mussels, as the folk of Belgium famously do, with “pommes frites & mayonnaise”! They are likely to drink one of their many celebrated beers as an accompaniment, whereas we would prefer to drink a nice glass of homemade cider with the meal.

Folklore says that mussels are at their best when there is an “R” in the month - i.e. not in late spring or high summer. Here in the West Country, we are lucky to have several renowned mussels producing areas on the south Devon coast (see below) but good quality farmed mussels from other areas are readily available at good fishmongers and supermarkets.

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo fresh Mussels
  • 5 small or 2 large Echallion Shallots – finely chopped
  • Bunch of Parsley – finely chopped
  • 60g /2oz unsalted butter
  • A good grind of Black Pepper
  • ½ pint good dry cider – we, of course, use our own Courtneys Silly Cow cider!
  • If desired the sauce can be enriched with double cream but the mussels are perfectly delicious without.

Serves 2 as a main course or 4-5 as a starter

Method

  1. Rinse the mussels well in a large sink-full of fresh cold water stirring them around well. Discard any that remain open (these are not alive) or any that have broken shells. Drain off the dirty water.
  2. Rinse the remaining mussels again under the cold tap, using a vegetable brush to scrub away any residual sand and “de-bearding” each mussel (the filament with which the mussel was anchored to the rock).
  3. Melt the butter on a low heat in a large, thick bottomed pan, the bottom pan of the Maju Liisa Fruit Steamer is ideal for this purpose.
  4. Add the finely chopped shallots and gently stew till soft – do not allow them to brown.
  5. Season with pepper, then add half of the chopped parsley and the cider and bring to the boil.
  6. Reduce the liquor a little, turn to a high heat and then toss the clean mussels into the pan and cover with the lid. After a couple of minutes shake the pan to redistribute the mussels and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until all the mussels are open. Do not overcook them!
  7. Remove from the heat, add the remaining chopped parsley and, if desired, the cream.
  8. Serve immediately with some fresh crusty or herb bread (see recipe).

(*) For information about Devon’s artisan food producers, including fisheries and cider producers see the wonderful illustrated, hardback book The Devon Food Book by Carol Trewin. The book can be found on Amazon. “This book is a great opportunity to showcase the depth and richness of the outstanding food and drink that we have here in Devon. A great way of finding out more about the chefs, producers and other businesses that have made the county's food culture one of the best in England." Michael Caines.

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