Nothing could be more patriotic than having a bowl of mussels once a week

JP McMahon: Now more than ever we need to support our shellfish farmers

Mussels cook extremely quickly so it’s important to have everything chopped and ready before you start cooking them. Photograph: iStock

Mussels cook extremely quickly so it’s important to have everything chopped and ready before you start cooking them. Photograph: iStock

 

Regular readers of this column will know about my love of shellfish and how, unfortunately, we still don’t eat enough of it in Ireland. My wonderful aunt, who lives in Dublin, has yet to taste the beauty of a freshly cooked mussel.

Many of us associate mussels with summer, sitting by the seaside, or restaurants by river banks, slurping them straight from the shell, with a glass of white wine or cider in hand.

But mussels, as well as other shellfish, such as cockles and clams, are good all year round. And now, more than ever, we need to support our shellfish farmers, as their usual customers (restaurants and hotels) are closed due to lockdown.

It would be a great act of national pride to have a bowl of mussels once a week (along with an oyster or two). Nothing could be more patriotic.

How to make mussels with stout

Mussels cook extremely quickly so it’s important to have everything chopped and ready before you start cooking them. For 1kg of washed mussels (discard any that are open and don’t close when tapped off the counter), you’ll need one diced onion, two minced garlic cloves, and 450ml of stout (white wine, beer or cider will also work). A few sprigs of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage and thyme help bring the whole lot together.

Melt 75g of butter with a little oil in a large pot. When the butter is foaming, add the onion and garlic and whatever fresh herbs you’re using. Just throw them in whole or halved. When the onion is translucent, add the stout and turn the heat up high. Reduce the stout by half and then add the mussels. Place a lid on the pot immediately and cook for two to three minutes until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that haven’t opened.

As these mussels are cooked in stout, they pair well with a few slices of brown soda bread with lashings of country butter. And of course, a pint of stout wouldn’t go amiss either.

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