Mussels in Bacon, Leeks and Beer
Mussels are in season so use them now. To store mussels at home, cover them with a damp cloth in the bottom [coldest] part of the fridge. Don’t store them in tap water or in ice as it will kill them off. Very fresh mussels should last a couple of days if stored correctly. Scrub them under cold running water and pull the ‘beards’ off to prepare them. Tap any open mussels gently; if they close they’re still alive. Discard any that don’t close up as they are the ones that can give you an upset tummy. Also throw any out that are damaged. Commercially grown mussels are one of the success stories of modern day aquaculture. They have to be grown in very clean water and don’t need any special food, so they are considered to be highly sustainable and environmentally friendly. Taylors on North Shields Fish Quay often stock Blueshell Shetland mussels, which are Marine Stewardship Council approved. From the Notebook Puffin Best Bitter goes well with them. It’s available at Swallow Fish or from www.northumbriangifts.co.uk and 10p from each bottle is donated to the Marine Conservation Society.
- 1kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
- large knob butter
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 large leek, finely chopped
- 4 rashers streaky bacon, finely chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed
- 200ml Puffin Best Bitter (or any other best bitter)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- crusty bread to serve
- Place the olive oil in a large pan on a high heat and fry the bacon pieces until they are crispy and brown. Set aside to use later. Melt the butter in the same pan and fry the chopped leek and garlic gently for 4-5minutes until soft but not browned. Add the beer and bring it to the boil – season with a little salt and pepper. Tip in the mussels, put the lid on the pan and shake it. Keep the lid on pan and cook them for 3-4 minutes. They are ready when the shells have opened up. Sprinkle on the parsley and bacon and give the pan another shake, pour the mussels into a warm bowl and serve straight away with the crusty bread. Do not eat any unopened mussels.