As some of you may know, my other half hails from Normandy, in the North Western corner of France. Their biggest exports are seafood (mussels and oysters), apples (therefore cider and calvados) and dairy products (including milk, cheese, butter and cream). The cream is thick, rich, calorific and lovely, similar to Clotted cream for those British readers out there. This recipe combines 3 of their prized products, all in one delightful dish. What a Pescetarian´s pleasure! Well, you don´t have to be pescetarian to enjoy this recipe, you just need to love food. Let me tempt you…
The plump, succulent mussels are steamed with onions, garlic, then cider and cream are added. A generous handful of chopped, fresh parsley is stirred in when they are cooked. The mussels are plucked from their shell using an empty shell…
…then the delicious, creamy sauce is mopped up with as much crusty bread as you have room for.
Sound good? We enjoyed this as a light lunch, but you could also serve this wonderful seafood dish as a starter. 1kg of mussels is a good portion for 2 people for lunch, or for 3 people as a starter.
They say the season for fresh mussels are all the months containing a letter ´R´…so September through till April. We are halfway through this season now so, it´s the perfect time to enjoy them.
Why make this dish?
Mussels are relatively cheap. They dont´t cost the earth (mine were less than 2€ for 1kg) AND they´re sustainable! They´re also really good for you (packed full of protein, and a great source of vitamins and minerals, especially zinc which helps boost immunity). According to this article in the Guardian they also have levels of folic acid and iron to rival red meat. Amazing, who knew mussels were such a wonder-food? Time to go out and buy some! If you enjoy this recipe, please like and share it with friends on Facebook, help me to spread the word about Pescetarian Pleasures! Thanks.
1kg fresh mussels, cleaned
1 onion, diced
150ml double cream
2 garlic cloves, crushed
parsley, small bunch chopped
When you buy seafood you need to try and eat it within a day really, it doesn´t keep for very long. Mussels take a bit of effort, but are well worth it. You need to rinse them in cold water and scrape any barnacles off the shell, as well as removing their ´beards´. The beard is the stringy bit that the mussels use to cling onto rocks and ropes (but it´s not nice to eat)! Once clean, rinse again, to flush out any grit and discard any shells that are broken. If any are open, give them a firm tap on the worktop, if they don´t close discard them too (it means they are not alive). Once they´re clean you can cook them.
Add the butter and a big glug of olive oil to a pan, and heat it over a low flame. When it´s hot, sauté the onion and garlic, until the onion starts to go translucent.
Add the mussels and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
Pour in the cider, turn up the heat and cover with a lid. We used cider we bought from Normandy, but use any good quality cider that you can find.
Cook them for a couple of minutes, until the mussels start to open.
We don´t have access to Norman cream here in Barcelona, and for a (slightly) lighter version, we used double cream!! Pour in the cream, and cook for a further minute or 2.
When most of the shells are open, they are ready. Sprinkle over the parsley and give them one last stir.
Put the mussels into bowls and pour or spoon over the remaining sauce and onions from the pan. This is the lovely, creamy juice that you will want to mop up with your crusty bread. READY!
The colours are so vibrant and the sea-fresh steam that rises off this bowl is tantalisingly tempting! A meal for all the senses! We enjoyed this, washed down with a small glass of the remaining cider. Delicious!