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.