We Love Cooking! + soup

:: Mussels in Irish Cider

There's a huge list of delicious ingredients coming into season this month, so now really is the time to check what your local supermarket, butcher, fishmonger or farmers market has to offer. As the season changes, bringing with it a nip in the air and beautiful crisp golden leaves, kitchen habits inevitably begin to sway a little more towards those more comforting and warming dishes.

Personally, as much as I love nice quick meals, if I have the time, delicious slow cooked meats, warm healthy soups and bubbling autumn fruit desserts always beat them hands down on a cold evening. Of course it's very important to keep active during the colder months, but nothing can be better than spending an afternoon cooking up a storm in a warm cosy kitchen, safe in the knowledge that you have a feast bubbling away in the oven. October has lots of fantastic produce coming into and already in season, including mussels, pumpkins, nuts, celeriac and blackberries.

This week's recipes are part of my Big Harvest Feast; creamy mussels steamed in cider, delicious slow cooked lamb shanks with colcannon mash, and a cosy little dessert of rustic apple and blackberry galettes. I think they make the most of what's in season right now and after devouring it all after taking these photographs, I can promise you it tastes darn good!

Mussels in Irish Cider
Mussels have a reputation for being difficult to cook, but this is just not true. The hardest part in reality is the washing. Place them in cold water (they should close, if they don't you should throw them away). Scrub any dirt off the surface of the mussels and remove the beard with a small knife. If you can get this down you will have no trouble and they take minutes to cook, so they're the perfect little starter. I love serving the pot straight to the table from the stove and clunking large spoonfuls of the cooked steaming mussels onto guest's plates. Make sure to serve with some chunky bread to mop up the juices!

Serves 4
1.5kg mussels, washed and the beards removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped 

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

200g of pancetta pieces. 

A good knob of butter

400ml good Irish cider
4 tablespoons of cream
A good handful of freshly chopped parsley,
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Discard any mussels that are open before cooking and any that stay closed after cooking.
Place a large pot over a high heat and brown the pancetta pieces until just golden and sizzling. Add in a knob of butter, allow it to melt and then add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for three minutes until the onion is soft.
Add in the cider and allow to bubble away for a few minutes so all the flavours mingle in together. Tumble in the mussels, cover with a lid and allow them to steam for about four minutes until they open, making sure to give the pot a good shake once or twice during the cooking time.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and parsley and season with sea salt and ground black pepper.
Serve with some crusty bread to mop up the liquid!

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:: Mussels in Irish Cider + soup