March 22nd, 2011

Morston Mussels with Leeks, Smoky Bacon and Aspall Cyder

It’s not often that I write recipes to serve one but this recipe is special. Ross and I only cook food we love to eat and that is perhaps a very selfish way to be when running a pub/restaurant. Well I’m the mussel lover in this relationship and it’s not often that I get a chance to eat them. Ross doesn’t really like any food that he has to eat with his fingers so he usually misses out on a mussel meal. When I see mussels on a menu I like to order it - BUT, and this is a big but, I have to trust the restaurant and also the chef. Now that might sound a bit controversial, however there is nothing worse than dirty mussels!! Gritty mussels with their beards attached is not my thing and it can easily ruin a simple humble and delicious dish in seconds.

Our friend Chris from Maximus delivers these beautiful Morston mussels to us and whether we serve this dish as a starter or a main, it’s hugely popular.

This time of the year one almost feels slightly deprived from sunshine and the happiness of the summer sun which delivers brightly coloured foods such as berries, peppers and tomatoes. However, with the earth warming up as we move into spring, seeing beautiful food such as these mussels and leeks is enough to put a gentle smile on ones face, and it’s a soft reminder that summer is on its way.

A few mussel facts:

  • Even though mussels have a stigma of being a poor man’s shellfish, they are most probably the only shellfish that is plentiful, not endangered and the most environmentally sound shellfish available to eat.
  • Norfolk is best known for its mussels with a wide selection from Morston to Brancaster.
  • Mussels are only good to eat in months with an “R” in it, and it also depends on the sea temperature – the colder the better.

  • 500g Morston Mussels, cleaned
  • 25ml olive oil
  • 1/2 leek, washed and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 small banana shallot finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 80g smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 200ml Aspall Cyder
  • 80ml double cream
  • Fresh horseradish
  • Handful of chopped parsley and chives
  • Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Thoroughly wash the mussels, remove the beards and discard any that are heavy, broken or that remain open when tapped.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion, bacon, and leek with the bay leaf and garlic.

Add the cider to the pan and bring it to a gentle boil. Add the mussels, cover the pan tightly with a lid and steam for 2 minutes, or until the mussel shells start to open. Add the cream, bring to the boil and remove from the heat. (Discard any mussels whose shells remain closed).

When ready, toss in the chopped herbs; serve in a bowl and grate over fresh horseradish to taste, serve with plenty of fresh bread.

Serves 1

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9 Comments to “Morston Mussels with Leeks, Smoky Bacon and Aspall Cyder”

  1. doesthebellyrulethemind says:

    My Mussel bed has almost disappeared. Weird , I don’t think pollution or storm is to blame. Other shellfish exist. Including a few mussels.
    Oddly a local river fisherman, is using mussels as bait , as in a box full every day. I wonder. Norfolk Mussels are some of the best. We had some in a place called Storm in Dorset.
    Must check out our Fishmonger towards the weekend (winner of Devon Life Gold award). Then I can do this recipe.

  2. Odelle Smith says:

    I love mussels, ‘the poor mans shellfish!’, ooh not to me they’re not, I’ve always loved them from being a small child when my Mum would cook them fresh for us (4 children & 2 adults), no mean feat, more a ‘labour of love, that’s lots of fresh mussels to wash, clean, cook & we would devour them hot from the pan to await the next huge pot full.
    Delicious!!!!!! You’ve evoked some happy memories of a wonderful Mum, thank-you!
    Yes, I too shall be off to the fishmongers for a supply A.S.A.P.
    A great recipe to try, using my favourite ingredients, a pleasant change to try with the cider, it’s usually white wine, shallots & garlic, so I shall ‘ring the changes’ and look forward to your new ‘twist’ on a firm favourite of mine. I shall look forward to sampling this dish with plenty of home-made wholemeal bread & butter.
    From one ‘foodie’ to another, thanks for sharing, I’m sure I shall be wiping my bowl clean!!!! Shame on me…….

  3. MarcSeattle says:

    THANK YOU!!! I found your website whilst in the UK last week, and upon returning home had to try these mussels. The sauce was absolutely delicious.

    Thank you very much for giving us an inspiring recipe to tryon a bleary, rainy Monday :)


  4. Michelle says:

    Awesome… now for the fishmonger :-)

  5. Michelle says:

    Now you’re totally talking my kind of food Madalene. I love mussels, and luckily for me so does the husband. We love all kinds of mussel recipes,and husband really likes leeks too.

    I will definitely be trying out this recipe very soon, hopefully next weekend when I get a chance to get to a fishmonger. Will let you know how it turned out. We don’t get British cider here, so do you think I could use sparkling cider? Or does it have to be still?

  6. Madalene says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Our Cider here is also sparkling so go for it girl. The cider I used is quite sweet, if that helps you choosing your cider for your dish.

    Happy Cooking

  7. Catherine says:

    That looks incredible! I love mussels but I always end up doing them with white wine, next time I’m definitely going to change things up and try them like this.

  8. Ruth says:

    Mussels? YES! Mussels with smoky bacon? Double YES! Add some cider? I need to make this!!!

  9. Local Lass says:

    This makes me want to get on my (metaphorical) bike (I can’t actually ride one) and get down to Suffolk – but I will definitely do a Scottish version, just for me. I would never have thought of the fresh horseradish, and I have loads of it.

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