Fast food has such a bad rap but there are some fast foods that are a lot more worthwhile than others. Some are not really food at all (anything in a cardboard box that has been warmed up in a microwave whilst you buy petrol for example…) and some, well some are so wonderful I’m not sure why I don’t eat them all the time. Mussels, for example; mussels are one of the fastest and easiest things in the world to prepare and so inexpensive and good for you as well. Right now we are in a ‘month with an ‘r”, i.e. November so we should be eating this brilliant, cheap and in season fast food by the shovelful. I just did by buying, prepping and devouring, erm, a kilo of the things in less than an hour; my excuse is that I didn’t have any lunch and since everything else was already in my fridge this was as cheap as it was good. The classic alcohol to use is white wine, as in moules marinières, but since I had a half-bottle of flat cider that needed using up I used that instead. Gorgeous and simple enough to be eaten often, not just on special occasions.
Mussels with cider and cream
For two, or one very greedy person who hasn’t had lunch
Cupboard (or things you may already have):
garlic clove, 1
butter, 25g (a largish lump)
salt and pepper
shallots, 2 (or ½ a red onion if you have that hanging about)
single cream, 100ml
fresh flat-leaf parsley, a handful
some nice bread to soak up all the juices
1. Put the mussels in a sink or bowlful of cold water and wash the outsides thoroughly. This involves pulling out all the hairy bearded bits (to which the poor b***ers were clinging for dear life…), rubbing off any loose bits of grit and, in the process, throwing away any broken or open ones. Only keep the closed, and therefore live, ones; a dead mollusc is a very unappetising prospect. Rinse them thoroughly again at the end.
2. Peel and chop the garlic and shallot and put in a large, lidded saucepan over a gentle heat with the butter. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
3. Put the mussels and cider into the pan, turn up the heat, cover and cook for somewhere between 3-10 minutes until the sauce is steaming hot and all the shells look open.
4. Lift the mussels out with a draining spoon and put in a large serving bowl. Discard any that are still closed from now on.
5. Turn the heat up under the sauce, let it bubble for a minute then add the cream and parsley, season and tip over the mussels.
6. Serve immediately with lots of bread.