Paddy’s Mussels – Mussels with Wild Garlic
Well, if St. Patrick didn’t eat this, I’d be surprised. Both ingredients are found in abundance in Ireland and it’s a super-delicious combination. The new leaves of wild garlic, or ramsons, are the culinary harbingers of Spring, poking up in the woodland or hedgerows, growing into aromatic clumps with the white drumstick flowers held above. Gorgeous to look at and to eat. Please pick sensibly: from clean patches where dogs don’t squat, and never take all the leaves from one plant or denude an entire patch. Do check you’re picking the right plant – you can’t mistake the garlic scent when a leaf is crushed. I’ve never seen it for sale in the UK, but it’s sold in Europe as “bear-leeks”, and eaten everywhere, in soup, sauces and salads.
Don’t be nervous about cooking fresh mussels – they’re as simple as 1,2,3. If you’ve enjoyed them in a restaurant, do try them at home. Oddly, children often like them very much – maybe it’s the messy fun of scooping them from the shells. Or maybe it’s that they go with chips so brilliantly.
Marry the light garlic savour with fresh salty mussels in a white wine and shallot broth; scoop up the juices with good bread, serve a plateful of crisp chips on the side and enjoy while you toast St. Patrick’s Day.
Serves 4 Timings: 30 minutes
Prepare and clean your mussels. Wash under running cold water – discard any that don’t close when tapped or after handling. Scrub them well and pull out any stringy beardy bits. Leave in a sieve until ready to cook.
Fry the shallots gently in a little vegetable oil or butter in a large pan until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the white wine and let it bubble down and cook down to about half the volume, takes only a couple of minutes.
Add the wild garlic to the pan, let it cook for only a few seconds and add the mussels. Put the lid on the pan and let the natural juices steam-cook the mussels for 3-4 minutes until they are all open and have absorbed the garlic taste.
Scoop into bowls and eat with good tangy sourdough bread or some chips, or both.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.