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

Mussels with chorizo, saffron and tomato… so very simple

spencer gulf mussels with chorizo, tomato and saffron Mussels can be simple as fuck and really impressive and sometimes, so can this ol’ blog. Watch this… Mussels are a light bulb moment. There is a picture of a bowl of mussels with a side of crusty bread in the dictionary right next to the definition of the phrase “light bulb moment” (please don’t check… I feel that may lead to me being found out for the fraudulent cad I am). They are a great call when you need something quick and easy and still impressive. There’s not a heap of meals that fall into this category, as it is not an actual category but just a damn unfortunate twist of events that we all have to deal with from time to time. In your time of need look to the mussels for the strength to go on (see what I did there? Mussels? Strength? That shit is gold). The scientific equation is thus; Cook mussels with some kind of saucy goodness, chuck an inbred rock farmer’s sized fistful of herbs in there and then serve with some crusty bread and a salad if you can be assed. I didn’t even use garlic because of the flavour hit from the sausage. Oh yes you could if you wanted to, but for the simplicity of this whole thing I just flogged the shit out of a good sausage. Oh yes.

These puppies came cryovaced and cleaned up  ready to go. It makes it a little hard to check for freshness so it's kinda nice to have a good fish monger
These puppies came cryovacced and cleaned up ready to go. It makes it a little hard to check for freshness so it’s kinda nice to have a good fish monger
Just mussels
Just mussels
...and the other stuff that went into the pot
…and the other stuff that went into the pot
Steeping saffron looks a little like this
Steeping saffron looks a little like this
Make some garlic bread, I dare you. It's childs play. It is quite literally childs play
Make some garlic bread, I dare you. It’s childs play. It is quite literally childs play
Um, garlic bread
Um, garlic bread
Looking good
Looking good
Get it on the plate with some of that
Get it on the plate with some of that
My belly is smiling at me
My belly is smiling at me

MUSSELS WITH CHORIZO, SAFFRON & TOMATO 1kg fresh mussels that, just as all seafood should, smell just like the ocean, not the toilet door in the parlor of the ladies of the night 1 small-medium onion, finely diced 1 chorizo sausage, diced pretty small but it doesn’t need to be as small as the onion A pinch of saffron, left to steep in ¼ cup warm water for 15 minutes (leave it out if you think you don’t like it. I really didn’t want you wasting this worlds saffron supply anyway) 2x 400g tins crushed tomatoes A handful of parsley and mint, chopped Whatever you think is a decent splash of olive oil Garlic bread or crusty bread to serve • Heat oil in a large pan and sauté onion and chorizo until fragrant • Add a splash of wine if using*, the saffron in it’s water and the tomatoes and simmer for exactly 10 minutes • Add mussels and cover. Simmer for another 4-5 minutes or until it looks like all of the mussels have opened, stirring gently once or twice • Add herbs and fold through • Check seasoning – it’s usually pretty good because of the salty goodness inside the mussels – and serve it up with a heap of some kind of juice mopping implement AKA. bread *If you have white wine you can chuck a splash in there, but don’t worry if you don’t. I didn’t and I can share the knowledge that these mussels were still damn good. It would be true to say that I have indeed tasted many things that are less appealing than mussels without a splash of wine.