Mussels from the fast flowing river Ex, cooked with chopped shallots, vintage cider and a dash of clotted cream, all sopped up with delicious sourdough bread – what could be more Devonium?
We returned from Powderham Food Festival laden with booty. Three kilos of fresh mussels came from The Exmouth Mussel Company who use an innovative self-fluidising elevator to lift the mussels rather than traditional dredging which damages the sea bed. The elevator is low impact, allowing the maintenance of the “underwater rainforests” of the Ex. The cider
was vintage and bottle fermented, from Yarde, a Devon company that make delicious drinks from unsprayed Devon fruit. The bread, oh the bread, from Red Dog Bakery, in Black Torrington, mid Devon, is worth driving miles to find. In fact, I’ve just had to stop writing and go and get a piece to eat right now. I’m dipping it in some peppery olive oil with a pinch of gray, mineral-ly sea salt I bought back from France. Mmmm. Anyway, back to the mussels. We invited some friends and made a simple meal. The mussels were already cleaned by the Exmouth Mussel company (no fiddling around with beards) and packed in a modern tray system that keeps them fresher, only 5 shells out of 3 kilos had expired with open mouths. I then soaked and rinsed them in a couple of changes of water over the period of an hour. Then all you need is:
3 kilos of mussels and a big pot (served 3 adults 5 children)
A nob of butter
3 banana shallots or 9 small shallots peeled and chopped finely
A spinkling of salt
A tablespoon or so of clotted cream
A good handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
Melt the butter in the pan, add chopped shallots and saute for a few minutes until the shallots have softened. Pour in the cider and heat to barely a simmer. Add the mussels and place a lid on the pan as they come to a boil. Wait for 3-4 minutes and then holding the lid firmly in place, shake the pan. Replace on the heat and cook for a further 3 minutes. After this time take of the lid and check that the mussels have opened. If not put the lid back on and give them a bit longer and a bit more shaking. When ready, scoop them out into a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add cream to the remaining soup and stir, taste, add salt if needed. Finally, add the chopped parsley and pour over the mussels. Serve with plenty of bread, napkins and bowls for the shells. Enjoy, we did.