And then I remembered the mussels in my freezer.
Back in 1999, my daughter and I traveled to Ireland alone (my husband was in South Korea at the time), landing at Shannon and driving south along the coast toward Leap, where we’d be staying. Along the way we stopped in Bantry for lunch. There’s a nice harbor there, and looking out across the water I asked, “what’re those things?” As it turned out, those were mussel beds.
I filed that thought away, and it was a few years later I was in my local market and saw they had packages of frozen mussels, ready to heat and serve. I read the fine print, and found they came from Bantry, which is in West Cork. [Note: while the company that packages these flourishes, they’re getting their mussels from China these days. But they still taste good.]
When I was growing up, and visiting Long Beach Island in New Jersey in the summer, mussels were those annoying things you cut your toes on. Now people see them in markets and say, “what the heck do I do with those?” Or “Where’s the food in them? They’re all shell!” I’ll admit they’re kind of labor-intensive for the amount of mussel you get out, but they do taste good.
And you can buy them shelled! Perfect for a very quick summer meal. Here’s one I adapted from a more traditional Irish recipe, modified for ready-to-eat mussels.
Mussels in Cider
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
2 oz finely-diced pancetta
2 Tblsp butter
1 cup hard cider
1/4 cup heavy cream
Small handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
In a medium-size saucepan, brown the pancetta pieces over medium heat until they are golden and sizzling. Add the butter, then the shallot and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the shallot is soft.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cream and parsley, season with salt and black pepper. And there you have it!
Serve with some nice artisan bread to sop up the liquid.
|Bakes locally in Plymouth|
|Here's a version I had in Dublin. The green stuff|
is samphire, which grows on rocks along the
shore. It tastes kind of like asparagus.