From Fast Flavours, 2012
Mussels are the world’s easiest seafood to cook, especially with a tasty beer. All you have to do is toss ‘em in a pot with the liquid of your choice and they’ll steam right open. If that liquid happens to be Upstreet’s Commons Pilsner you can count on a delicious broth perfect for soaking up and sharing with friends. A bit of crispy bacon doesn’t hurt either but remember to save a few cold ones for sharing!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 with lots of seconds
4 to 6 thick slices of bacon, thinly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
5 pounds (2.25 kg) of fresh, fresh mussels, rinsed well
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of your favourite hot sauce
1 bottle (500 mL) of Upstreet Commons Czech Style Pilsner, a swig or two taste tested by the cook and the rest saved for the mussels
4 or 5 green onions, chopped
1 baguette or your favourite fresh bread for dipping
Position your largest pot over medium-high heat. Toss in the bacon, then pour in enough water to just barely cover it. Bring the works to a simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. As the water simmers, the bacon will begin to cook. Then, as the water evaporates, the bacon will render, releasing its fat. Lastly, it will crisp as the fat left behind heats past the boiling point of water into the flavour zone. Be patient and keep stirring until every piece is evenly crisped, about 5 or 6 minutes.
When the bacon is crispy and delicious, add the onions. Stir for a few minutes as they cool the pan, softening and dissolving any flavourful crust on the bottom, 2 or 3 minutes. Dramatically add the mussels, then crown ceremoniously with your hot sauce rinsed through the shells with freshly opened beer. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Lower the heat a bit and steam the works, cooking and flavouring the mussels and their broth with the brown bacon and beer. Continue cooking until a rich, fragrant broth forms and all the mussel shells pop open, revealing their tasty meat, about 10 minutes.
Divide the hot, steaming mussels among bowls (discarding any mussels that didn’t open), then pour in the remaining tasty broth. Sprinkle on the green onions, serve, and share with lots of bread to soak up the delicious broth and lots of cold beer to keep the conversation flowing!
© Chef Michael Smith – Fast Flavours, 2012