Right, I think it is high time for another recipe. And after recent posts on the subject, you would be forgiven for the thinking this has turned into the WW Mussel Eater blog. But (and I apologise for sounding so evangelical on the subject) mussels are a) fabulously tasty, b) not at all expensive and c) low low low in points. Oh, and d) it generally takes me so long to get through a bowl that I am not bothered by the thought of any side dishes (although crusty bread to mop up the juices is always good).
I think some people are a wee bit scared when it comes to cooking seafood. Let's face it, the mussels and oysters of this world are not going to be winning any beauty contests any time soon, and they can look a wee bit daunting when compared with a chicken breast that comes straight from the supermarket all nicely trimmed and wrapped in plastic. But, fear not! A little bit of preparation time and mussels are actually one of the speediest things ever to cook - faster than the very fastest of fast food.
So, prior to embarking on the recipe below - and I do urge you to try it, it's the British answer to a traditional moules mariniere and if anything, even nicer, what do you have to do to get the mussels ready for the pot? Give them a quick scrub, and you'll notice a bit of stringy type stuff protruding from the shell - take a good hold and yank it off - I find this quite therapeutic. This is what is known as "de-bearding". If the mussels are wide open prior to cooking and looking generally a bit sad they could well be dead and if so, need discarding. If in doubt though chuck it into the pot. The surefire way to tell if it is dead is if it is closed when it comes out. As long as you avoid those, you should be fine.
This recipe is taken from the "Best of British" booklet that was tucked inside of the BBC Good Food magazine, Oct 2010. The points are calculated based on the nutritional info provided.
small knob of butter
140g smoked bacon - I found this to be 4 decent sized rashers
2 shallots, finely sliced
small bunch of thyme, leaves stripped
1.5kg small mussels, scrubbed and bearded
150ml of cider
2 tbsp double cream
Serves 2, 6.5 points per portion
Heat the butter in a large pan and then fry the bacon until it starts to crisp. Throw in the shallots and the thyme and cook briefly until softened.
Turn up the heat and then tip in the mussels and pour over the cider. Cover the pan, give it a good shake, and then leave the mussels to steam for 5-7 minutes shaking occasionally until all the mussels have opened - remember at this point to discard any that are still closed.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop the mussels into bowls and then place the pan back on the heat. Bring the juices to the boil, stir in the cream and pour the sauces over the mussels.