As I've learned over the years, mussels are one of the most adaptable ingredients in the kitchen. You can throw just about anything at them, and they'll end up tasting great. But I'm guessing sawdust would probably taste wonderful after getting bathed in bacon, crème fraîche, and hard cider too. Luckily no wood is necessary for this recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver, which is fairly simple to prepare.
My only concern was that there'd be too much fat, and that the liquid would cover up all of the mussels' natural flavor. But the mussels manage to stand up for themselves. Of course, it helps that the cider lends some acidity, cutting through much of the fat.
Though I'm sure this tastes great any time of the year, it's especially welcome during the last cold days of February.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 4 1/2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 ounces hard cider, preferably a drier style
- 4 tablespoons crème fraîche
- 1 bunch tarragon, stems discarded, leaves chopped
- Large handful of fresh parsley, stems discarded, leaves chopped
- Salt and pepper
Pour one tablespoon of the olive oil into a large pot set over medium-high heat. Add the chopped bacon, and cook until the pieces are crispy, three to four minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to some paper towels. Try to leave as much of the fat behind in the pot as possible.
Add the garlic to the oil, and cook for a few seconds, and then add the mussels, cider, and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to stir everything around, and then cover the pot and turn the heat to high. Steam the mussels until almost all of the mussels have opened, shaking the pot from time to time, three to four minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a very large bowl, leaving the liquid behind. Discard any of the mussels that haven't opened.
Reduce the heat to medium-high, and stir in the crème fraîche. Cook at a boil for two minutes, and then add almost all of the bacon and herbs, leaving a little of each for a garnish. Stir well, and then season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the mussels between four large bowls, ladle on some of the sauce, and garnish with the remaining bacon and herbs. Serve the mussels with good crusty bread.