A seafood dish with a festive twist

This recipe may seem unusual, but it brings Brussels sprouts and mussels together wonderfully

Brussels sprouts, the perennial Christmas vegetable, go perfectly with seafood. Photograph: iStock

Brussels sprouts, the perennial Christmas vegetable, go perfectly with seafood. Photograph: iStock

 

Seafood and shellfish is at its best at winter time because of the cool waters of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, most of us fail to align the winter season with the sea. Instead, we look towards the land: beef, turkey, ham, duck and goose. From the end of November onwards, it seems we line ourselves up to consume every type of land animal. But what about our beautiful mussels, oysters and organic salmon?

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

Heading into the Christmas season, we should really include a celebration of what we do best in terms of our oceanic heritage. But finding the perfect seasonal recipe is never easy. However, Brussels sprouts, the perennial Christmas vegetable, have other uses and are perfect for pairing with shellfish and seafood.

This dish may seem unusual, but it brings these two strands together wonderfully, so you get the best of both worlds. Feel free to play around with the type of bacon you use, from pancetta to prosciutto and lardo.

Fish stock or white wine can be used instead of the cider. If cooking for children, just use water. A little cream can also be added with the cider if you want to give the dish an added richness.

How to cook mussels with Brussels sprouts, chestnuts and bacon

In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch 300g Brussels sprouts for two to three minutes and then refresh in ice water.

In a large frying pan, melt the 50g butter in a tablespoon of oil. When the butter starts to foam, add a diced onion and two minced garlic cloves, thyme and a bay leaf. Season with a little salt and cook until the onion is translucent.

Dice eight streaky rashers and fry for a few minutes. Pour in the cider and allow to come to the boil. Add 1kg of cleaned mussels and the cooked sprouts and cover with a lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that have not opened. Remove from the heat and add some finely chopped chives. 

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