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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Posh Mussel Gratin

Any kind of shellfish is a winner in my book and I am constantly looking out for good recipes, that way if I happen upon some decently priced shellfish I have a rough idea of what I am going to do with it. I found this one in one of my most used cookbooks while looking for something else - I didn't give it much thought but it must have been fate or something because when I went shopping a few days later I found mussels. I admit I was a little dubious at the time of the quality but beggars can't be choosers I suppose - as the saying goes.

Whilst I am certain that the best quality ingredients are going to give you the best results I am also a firm believer in the 'It's what you do with the ingredients' theory, that counts. This recipe would be great as a starter at a dinner party, shared with friends or even with a salad as a main. It's a great recipe in my opinion, it tastes great and looks elegant without too much effort.

I used Vodka instead of white wine, mostly because I rarely have any wine in the house and almost always have Vodka, besides Vodka cream rocks. You could use either, or even try Vermouth. Vermouth is a good thing to have on hand because it doesn't go off for a few months, so keeps longer and you can use it instead of wine. I also use Port or Sherry instead of red wine.

Mussel Gratin
150ml Vodka
1 shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
3kg large mussels, cleaned
300ml light cream
3tbsp parsley, finely chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
30g of bread crumbs
2tbsp melted butter
1. In a large saucepan (with a lid, which you will need later), place the vodka, shallot, and garlic bring to a boil and then gently simmer for about 2 mins.
2. Now add the mussels and put the lid on the saucepan, (make sure it is on properly) now return to a boil, for 5-6 minutes, shaking the saucepan often, until the mussel shells have all opened.
3. Using a sieve drain the liquid into another saucepan and put the mussels into a bowl, throw away any shells that haven't opened as they are no good, don't be tempted to try and open them, just get rid of them.
4. Bring the strained liquid to a boil, then gently simmer until it has reduced to nothing more than a few tbsp fulls, three to be exact. Now add the cream and heat through, but don't boil. Mix in half the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Next remove and throw away the top shell of the mussels, and in a circular pattern place the other half of the shells in to an oven proof dish. Pour the sauce over the mussels, sprinkle over the bread crumbs and the butter. Cook under the grill (broiler) for about 5 minutes, or until golden which ever comes first, then finally sprinkle with the remaining parsley.