Mussels in Weissbier

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I have eaten a lot of mussels in my life. I first ate them in a seafood restaurant in Le Touquet; a simple pot of moules marinières that spawned a lifelong addiction. The simplicity of white wine and cream has always been my favourite, but since variety is the spice of life, I do occasionally stray from the tried-and-tested into more adventurous flavour combinations. This is one such occasion; this mussels in weissbier recipe maintains the simplicity of moules marinières but the depth of the flavour of wheat beer adds a little something extra that compliments the tenderness and delicate flavour of the mussels.

I first had this dish at The Mustard Pot, over two years ago now. They've since taken it off the menu, which is a real shame as it was one of the best. So, I decided to recreate it myself. Now is the perfect time for mussels; they're in season now but remind me so much of summer that they pull me out of my winter-induced slump. I'll be honest and say that I had never cooked mussels at home before I made this dish, and I was a bit nervous about it. Although cleaning and prepping the mussels is a little bit time-consuming, it's a lot easier than I thought it would be. There's a great guide here, if you're worried about it. Once all your prep work is done, though, the dish takes minutes to cook.  It's a simple but impressive dish - it might even be perfect for Valentine's Day if you're that way inclined.

For two portions of mussels, you'll need:

  • 500g mussels
  • 2-3 shallots
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • 100ml weissbier (I used Hoegaarden)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • a big swirl of double cream

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1. Clean and de-beard your mussels. Discard any with broken shells, or which are already open but don't close when you give them a sharp tap.

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2. Chop your leek, shallots and garlic.

3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter over a medium heat for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the leeks, shallot and garlic to the pan and fry until they've softened (about 4 minutes).

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5. Pour in the weissbier, turn up the heat and add the mussels to the pot. Pop the lid on top and steam for 5 minutes, shaking the pan every now and again, until all (or most) of the mussels have popped open their shells. Delicious!

6. Season with salt and pepper, add a swirl of cream and give a stir to bring it altogether.

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7. Serve with a cold glass of weissbier, big hunks of crusty bread and a couple of lemon wedges.

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