Grilled Mussels with Beer, Bacon and Thyme

Updated: Jul 18

by Simon Stallard from The Hidden Hut (Harper Collins) Photography by Susan Bell & Sally Mitchell


These recipes are a celebration of this British delicacy. Steaming is the most common way to cook mussels, but here are a few ideas for baking and grilling them too.


First you prepare the mussels. Scrub the mussel shells with a stiff brush and rinse under cold running water. Discard any mussels that remain open after being sharply tapped. Scrape off any barnacles and remove the beards with a small knife. Rinse well.



Each recipe serves 4


Ingredients

50g butter

2 tbsp olive oil

8 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped

5 garlic cloves, chopped

100g thyme sprigs

200ml chicken stock

500ml beer

1tbsp wholegrain mustard

1 tbsp light brown sugar

Juice of ½ lemon

200ml double cream

1.5kg mussels, cleaned (as above)



Method

Prepare and heat up your barbecue. Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat and, when the butter has melted, cook the bacon for 4 minutes until crispy. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook for 1 minute, then add the stock, beer, mustard and sugar. Bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute, then add the lemon juice and cream. Stir and put to one side.


Meanwhile, grill the mussels on the barbecue grill rack until just starting to open, then transfer to the saucepan and cook for 1 minute over a medium heat. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened, and serve. (Alternatively, cook the mussels in the pan: add them with the garlic and thyme, then cover the pan with a lid and cook for 2 minutes or until they are open).






Baked Mussels with Fennel and Leek


Ingredients

2 leeks, sliced

2 fennel bulbs, sliced

60ml olive oil

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp fennel seeds

1.5kg mussels, cleaned (as above)

100ml Pernod or pastis

300ml fish stock

150g butter, diced

50g tarragon leaves, chopped


Method

Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan / gas mark 7). Put the leeks and fennel in a large roasting tin. Add the oil, salt and fennel seeds, then bake for 10 mins or until the vegetables are softening.


Add the mussels and bake for 5 mins more. Add the Pernod, stock and butter and cook in the oven for another 3 mins. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened. Stir in the tarragon and serve.


Steamed Mussels with Samphire, Garlic and Wine


Ingredients

50g butter

2 tbsp olive oil

3 onions, sliced

10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

3 bay leaves

1.5kg mussels, cleaned (as above)

600ml white wine

200g samphire

200ml double cream

75g parsley leaves, chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt


Method

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and sweat the onions, garlic and bay leaves until softened but not coloured.


Add the mussels and the white wine, cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Cook for 3 mins over a high heat until all the mussels have opened – discard any that haven’t.


Add the samphire and cream, and cook for 1 more minute, then add the parsley, lemon juice and pepper. Taste and add salt if it needs it (it will depend on how salty the mussels and samphire are). Serve.



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