Every December we look forward to holiday gatherings with our colleagues, friends and family. It is, possibly, the one time of the year where we feel wild abandon in showing appreciation and love to the people in our lives. It is also a time of year when we want something new, interesting and still festive, on our food-laden table.
Cleaning the mussels – Fill a basin of cold water and upend the bag of mussels into the water, discard any mussels that float to the top. Scrub to remove barnacles and sand, and remove the beard by giving it a quick tug towards the hinged part of the mussel. Place cleaned mussels in a fresh basin of cold water, place the bowl in the fridge until ready to be used.
Note: you will need a large stock pot for this recipe
3 kilos farmed mussels
Fats – 2 tablespoons butter and a plug of olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
6 cloves roasted garlic, smashed into a paste
6 Thai Chilies, seeds removed, washed and finely chopped
1 bottle Pinot Grigio
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg mix
The final toppings:
1 cup julienned red peppers
1 cup julienned fennel bulb
1 cup destemmed fennel herbs
Heat the fats and onions and cook until the onions are caramelized. Toss in the garlic and chilies and give it a quick stir. Pour in the wine and cook it to a fast simmer, add the broth of choice and get it to a fast boil, lower the heat and bring it down to a gentle bubble. Slowly pour in the whipping cream, sprinkle in the spices, stir with reverent respect, and let it get to a very delicate simmer. Add the mussels at this time and cover with a lid, let it simmer for about 5 minutes until the mussels are all open (discard unopened mussels). Remove from the heat and transfer to a large, flattish 4-inch deep serving dish. Strategically decorate with the toppings to give the dish a festive look, and serve immediately with warm, puffy dinner buns like grandmas used to make at Christmas time.
Eat salmon and shellfish from accredited farms 3 times a week.
Buy beef, chickens, ducks and other farmed animals from reputable local businesses.
Investigate local greenhouses and farms and support the businesses you respect.