Morston Mussels with Leeks, Smoky Bacon and Aspall Cyder
Portion/Yield:Serves 1 as a main course or serves 2 as a starter
We are fairly selfish with our approach to what we put on our menus at the British Larder in the sense that we only cook food we love to eat. I’m a mussel lover and it’s not often that I get a chance to eat them. There is something rather good about eating with your fingers, food just seems to taste better, and mussels in their shell require a bit of finger action. When I see mussels on a menu I like to order them, but, and this is a big but, I have to trust the restaurant and also the chef. Now that might sound a bit controversial, but there is nothing worse than dirty mussels. Gritty mussels with their beards attached and full of sand is not my thing and it can easily ruin a simple and delicious dish in seconds.
At this time of the year we can sometimes feel slightly deprived of warm sunshine and of the happiness we experience when the summer sun delivers brightly coloured foods such as berries, peppers and tomatoes. However, winter has its own colourful gems and seeing beautiful food, such as these mussels and leeks, is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face, and it’s a gentle reminder that spring is on its way.
Ingredients & Method
- 25ml rapeseed oil
- 1 small banana shallot, finely diced
- 80g smoked back bacon rashers, finely diced
- 1/2 leek, washed and sliced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 200ml apple cider
- 500g fresh mussels (in shell), cleaned
- 80ml double cream
- a handful of fresh parsley and fresh chives, chopped
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- peeled fresh horseradish, for grating (to taste), to serve
Heat the rapeseed oil in a large saucepan and sauté the shallot, bacon, leek, garlic and bay leaf, with a little salt and pepper added, over a high heat for 6–8 minutes or until golden brown.
Add the cider to the pan and bring it to a gentle boil. Add the mussels, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a high heat for 4–5 minutes or until the shells open. Discard any unopened mussels.
Add the cream and bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, then scatter over the chopped herbs.
Serve immediately in a bowl(s) and grate over the fresh horseradish to taste. Serve with plenty of buttered fresh bread.