Mussels in cider with tarragon

 

Mussels in cider with tarragon, taken from 'The Ethicurean Cookbook'
Mussels in cider with tarragon, taken from 'The Ethicurean Cookbook'

1–1.5kg mussels
Rapeseed oil
3 shallots, sliced into half moons
1 garlic clove, crushed under a knife and then finely sliced
250ml medium-dry cider
250ml chicken stock
100ml double cream
4 sprigs of tarragon
Sea salt
Sourdough bread, to serve

Mussels are one of our favourite shellfish. We are truly addicted to them and feel you can never have enough. It is perhaps without much objectivity therefore that we would claim they are one of the most outstanding foods to be found in the British Isles.

We have introduced a West Country twist to this classic recipe with the addition of a medium-dry local cider called Perry's Dabinett, but any good medium-dry cider can be substituted.

Rather than using fish stock, we opt for the deeply rich and meaty pressure-cooked chicken stock that is an essential part of our kitchen routine (see our book). Chicken and cider have a great affinity with each other and you will soon see why this works so well in this dish. The "bridging" flavour is the tarragon. If you don't have any, you can substitute star anise.

Rinse the mussels under cold water and remove their "beards". A few will be slightly open. Tap them quite hard on the work surface. If, after a minute or so, the mussel closes, you know it is alive. Discard any mussels that do not close.

Heat a splash of rapeseed oil in a large pan, add the shallots and garlic and fry over a medium heat until softened but not browned. Add the cider, chicken stock and cream and turn the heat up high with the lid on. Once the liquid has come to a boil, add the mussels.

Stir once, cover the pan again and cook for 2–3 minutes, until the mussels open. Add the tarragon sprigs and stir the mussels to check the majority have opened. Discard any that don't open. It is far easier to overcook mussels than it is to undercook them, so resist the urge to continue any longer.

With a slotted spoon, divide the mussels between two serving bowls, then taste the cooking liquid and add salt if needed. Ladle the liquor over the mussels and get amongst them pronto. An empty mussel shell makes a perfect set of tweezers for removing the remaining mussels from their shells, and decent sourdough bread will thirstily mop up the last drops of the liquor.

Taken from 'The Ethicurean Cookbook' (Ebury Press, £25).

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in