Saffron mussels

Main course: serves two. Total time: 20 minutes
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Saffron Mussels Serves two. Total time: 20 minutes

Mussels at their best are small, dark orange and imbued with copious salty sea juices. They are not a bad choice for romantic meals if you do happen to be "in luurve" at the moment. He cleans `em, you cook `em, you both get to eat them and live happily ever after.

1 x 1 kg bag of mussels
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
125 ml dry white wine
3 heaped tbsp creme fraiche
15 saffron filaments, infused in 1 tbsp boiling water for 30 minutes
1 tsp beurre manie (equal parts of plain flour blended with unsalted butter)
To serve: a baguette and unsalted butter

To clean the mussels, wash them in a sink of cold water, discarding any that are broken or do not close when sharply tapped. Pull off any beards and scrape off any barnacles. If they are very dirty, then give them a second rinse. Place them with the shallots and wine in a large saucepan, and cover with a tightly fitting lid. Heat the pan over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, shaking it once or twice, by which time the mussels should have just steamed open. Decant the juices into a small pan, leaving the mussels covered in the pan in which they were cooked. Boil vigorously to reduce the juices by half, add the creme fraiche, the saffron and beurre manie and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes longer until you have a thin creamy sauce. Transfer the mussels to a large bowl, pour over the sauce and toss. Serve straightaway in large warm bowls, accompanied by the bread and butter.