Clack, clackity clack; I love the sound of mussels being stirred in a pan. It’s one of the best kitchen sounds in my opinion, up there with The Sizzle and The Plop. In fact, I don’t know why I’m not eating more mussels when they’re cheap (£3.50 per kilo from Soper’s in Nunhead) and they cook really fast.
I’m also drawn to them because they just love to be cooked with a bit of booze. I like that in my ingredients. A splash of white wine of course is essential in moules marinières but I wanted something different and one of my favourite beers immediately sprang to mind: Punk IPA by Brewdog. It’s an astonishing beer, really. The first time you drink it your eyes go wide with shock at just how different it is from all the others; at once bitter and sweet, it has a floral flavour that really works well with the mussels.
A big bowl of mussels is of course extremely good fun to pick through, made all the better by the knowledge that you’ve got a loaf of good bread to sop up those juices.
The very best thing about this recipe though, is that Punk IPA cans come in packs of 4, so you can drink the other 3.
Mussels with Bacon and Punk IPA
1kg fresh mussels
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 rashers thick cut smoked bacon, diced (get some nice bits of fat in there)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 can Brewdog Punk IPA (you can buy it from Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Utobeer in Borough Market for the Londoners. Also, online in bottles).
Small handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Crusty bread, to serve
Put your mussels in a colander and scrub them under cold running water to remove any dirt from the outside. Knock off any barnacles you can and remove any gritty beards by pulling them. Discard any mussels which do not close when you give them a sharp tap on a hard surface and also any that have broken shells.
Heat a little oil in a pan large enough to hold the mussels and add the bacon, onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring until the bacon is beginning to crisp up. Add the beer and some black pepper and bring to the boil, then add the mussels. Put the lid on and cook on a high heat for about 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake now and then, until the mussels have steamed open. Discard any mussels that don’t open.
Sprinkle with the parsley, squeeze over the lemon, and serve with the bread.