Mussels with bacon, apple cider and cream… and introducing “Matty mis en place”

mussels with bacon, apple cider and cream
Just yesterday I was going to get some mussels and cook them up for dinner. Mussels with bacon, onion, cider and cream, I thought. I’ve really been feeling the mussel lately… wait, I believe even I should re-think the wording of that one…

Anyway, my mouth has been yearning for a dripping hot creamy mussel… dear good lord.

Seriously, I really shouldn’t be attempting to write any kind of story to goes with mussels for dinner. Shit, even that sounds like an all male review… I think I should just move fairly quickly to a recipe.

The thing I was going to say is that events came to pass that prevented the consumption of mussels that evening. My palate/face/head would be relegated to whatever leftovers may be hanging around in the fridge. Lucky for my face, held within the cooling grasp of the refrigerator was the remains of two cracking barbecues that were cooked on previous nights. Those leftovers consisted of smoky brisket, pork ribs, pork sausages, coleslaw, add to that a few chips that were purpose chopped and fried, and home made hot sauce and I do conclude that life does not suck.

After eating our dinner we watched a little River Cottage on the interweb, and it just happened to be a fish episode… and Hugh was cooking mussels… and those mussels were indeed cooked with bacon, spring onions, cider and cream. He was basically pointing at me and laughing in my face that I didn’t have mussels. Seriously, I’m pretty sure he gave me a little “suck shit” glance. He’s lucky I think he’s a bloody nice guy or I might have flicked him off in favour of Gray’s Anatomy, a nice hot chocolate and a couple of Iced VoVos.

Would I bollocks!

Anyway, Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall is a nice guy and I cooked those fricking mussels for dinner tonight.

A worthy mention goes to my brother Matt, who prepared the mis en place. Matt now goes by the moniker of “Matty mis en place”.

Getting geared up for the mussel fest... and not one pair of ass-less chaps in sight
Getting geared up for the mussel fest… and not one pair of ass-less chaps in sight

In with he bacon, onion and garlic
In with he bacon, onion and garlic
Deglaze with the cider
Deglaze with the cider
Get the cream in there... and please stop with the gutter mouth innuendo
Get the cream in there… and please stop with the gutter mouth innuendo

Get the mussels into your face... I need to go now
Get the mussels into your face… I need to go now

MUSSELS with BACON, APPLE CIDER AND CREAM (serves six or more with sides)

2kg live mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed (a lot of mussels will come cleaned up and ready to go these days, which makes for a truly quick and easy dining experience… no reason why we can’t your dinner to match your performance in the bedroom now, is there?)
1 onion (whatever you have), diced
4 rashers bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
300ml apple cider… get a big bottle so there’s some left for you. Actually, just get a few now so you don’t need to drive up to the bottle shop later when you’ve decided another one or two might go well with dinner
300ml cream
‘A handful parsley, chopped
Grated pecorino
Pepper (you shouldn’t need salt because of the saltiness of the mussels and bacon. I hope this isn’t news to you because I have told you before. If this needs to keep happening we are not going to be able to remain friends)
15 minutes
Crusty baguette with aioli and green salad, to serve

• In a large pan that is clearly big enough to fit all of the mussels, you can heat some oil
• Sauté bacon onion and garlic until soft and fragrant
• Add cider and simmer for a minute or two
• Add mussels, cover and simmer for another 3-4 minutes
• Remove lid and gently stir through cream. Simmer for another 2 minutes or until all of the mussels are open (it is common for one or two, or even three or four, to hang on for a little longer than the rest. You can pry these open with a butter knife to get what’s yours)
• Season with a little pepper
• Sprinkle with parsley and a bit of pecorino if you feel the urge
• Serve with a little or a lot of other things

Nozza’s midnight mussel extravaganza

Nozza’s Midnight Mussel Extravaganza… sounds like a late night all male review.

No. Portarlington mussels were our choice. Fresh from the market and cooked at midnight by an Aussie rapper with a brim full of beer and cider, just to show you how easy this actually is.

*As for right now, it is the next day and I have a fuzzy brain. But I know for a fact that I had a damn good time last night. And for that I shall have to pay. This is not a “put it on the card” type of thing. The only way I know to fix the bill after a night like that is to offer the gods a sacrificial virgin maiden. But if the virgin is unattainable, and let’s face it there is slim chance of your dopey old ass being able to find a virgin, try these easy steps.
1. Lay on the couch.

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2. Eat scrambled eggs with truffle and speck.

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3. Eat smoked sausage, cheese, dill pickles and mustard on awesome bread.
4. Drink juice for vitamins, coffee for brain stimulation and neurofen to relieve the stabbing pain behind your eyes.
5. Eat some more. Lot’s more.
6.If all else fails sangria’s seem to be working quite well for me.

Due to this cook up being conducted at midnight details are sketchy. But I do know I laughed so much my face almost fell off, and my good friend Nozza did the cooking.

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NOZZA’S CREAMY MUSSEL (he would have wanted it this way)

Like hyenas with a zebra carcass we gave way to our primitive instincts and got our faces messy. We didn’t use bowls, our bread was torn and hacked apart with our hands, mussels were sucked and slurped (hehe) and we left a huge effing mess. It seems the vikings had been, feasted on our food and our women and quite possibly had their way with out goats, and then disappeared into the dark chill of another cold Melbourne night… poetry…

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2kg mussels, debearded
2 leeks, sliced
100g speck, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 handful parsley
1 handful spinach just because it was in the fridge and the stupid thing doesn’t seem to be working to well so we thought we’d better use everything before it goes to shit
250ml thickened cream
1 stubby apple cider, and choose cider that tastes like cider, not a mix of cheap cask wine, lemonade and apple juice
No seasoning because the mussel will release their salty goodness into the broth when they open

Sauté the leek, speck and onion. When it’s soft add the mussels and cook, covered, for 5-ish minutes. Add everything else and simmer for another minute or until it looks like all of the mussels are open. Eat with a big fat loaf of some kind of awesome bread, boozy friends, and total disregard for table manners… just tonight though, OK.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and probably again. Mussels are damn good. Simple to cook – and cooked simply is when they’re at their very best. Especially at 12:30 in the morning.