Impress a party with this delightfully infomal and deliciously tasty shellfish dish
Now is peak season for mussels—they're thriving in the cool spring waters off the British coastline and make for a tasty meal. Our native shellfish have been used for sustenance for more than 20,000 years and prehistoric Scottish settlements can be indentified by mounds of mussel shells found nearby. So fall back in love with mussels with this simple dish!
Ingredients: Serves 4
• 750g frozen French fries
• 2kg mussels
• 50 g butter
• 2-3 leeks, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced
• 2 sprigs of thyme, stripped from the stem
• 375ml white wine
• 2tbsp Dijon mustard
• 1tbsp crème fraîche
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 2tbsp flatleaf parsley, chopped
• 100g lambs lettuce
1. Tip the French fries into a roasting tray and cook, as per pack instructions.
2. Next, prepare the mussels. Most farmed mussels in the UK don't require too much work—simply tip into a colander, rinse under a running cold tap and tug out the knotty fibre "beards." It's good practice to sift through the mussels and discard any which have been open shells, which indicates that they have died and shouldn't be eaten.
3. Melt the butter in the biggest pan you have—ideally a stock pot. Add the leeks and thyme, and sweat on a low heat until they are soft. Turn up the heat and add the white wine, so that it hisses as it hits the hot pan. Let it cook at a fast simmer for 1 minute, then stir in the mustard and crème fraîche and bring the sauce up to a running simmer again before adding all the mussels. Tip them into the pot and cook covered for 3 minutes, giving the pan a shake halfway through. Lift the lid to check that all the mussel shells have now pinged open—give them another minute if not.
4. Toss a little salt over the French fries, and then the ladle the mussels into warmed, shallow dishes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley, and serve with a simply dressed lambs lettuce salad.