I've featured Mussels before on this blog, they're my 'Home Alone' treat, and the perfect accompaniment to a glass of cider and hunk of crusty bread. Half a kilo of fresh shiny-black Mussels are one of lifes real pleasures. A pleasure to look at, a simple pleasure to cook, and just the most moreish finger food there is. Karen doesn't like them, which is obviously a bonus for me. Half a kilo each is a good weight for a Saturday evening at home with a good movie. You may need to use the subtitle option though, the annoying rustle of a crisp packet is as nothing to the rattle and slurp of a bowl of Mussels.
I bought my Mussels on Leicester Market. Proper barnacle-encrusted Brancaster beauties, bought by the weight, and wrapped in paper, not vac-pac'd and swimming in garlic butter from the supermarket. There's a little more work involved for sure. Barnacles and beards need removing, and a good scrub won't go amiss, but I really like this bit of prep, and it's a good opportunity to find broken or gaping shells which may need rejecting. If a Mussel doesn't snap to attention after a sharp tap on the sink, it's a goner and not for the pot.
When it came to cooking these Mussels, I started as I usually do by opening a bottle of good dry cider. On this occasion, a bottle of our dwindling stock of 2010 Kingston Black/Sweet Alford blend. Rich, fruity, full of varietal character, a slight suggestion of sweetness. In fact almost too good to cook with.
Normandie Mussel Surprise
This is where necessity makes an appearance. I wanted to add a bit of cream to the stock, but the cream was somewhat past its best. Instead I was forced to turn to a scrag-end of creamy Camembert, a leftover from the Christmas cheese board, all gooey and ripe, but still in good condition. I added a chunk of this to the pan, and stirred until I had a thin sauce, seasoned with Black Pepper, and poured over the waiting Mussels. At this point you may want to add some Chopped Parsley, I would certainly have liked to but my luck had well and truly ran out by now. The Mussels were great nevertheless.