Mussels Steamed with Cider and Bacon
Raw mussels must be alive when cooked, so careful preparation is important. Wash them under cold running water until it runs clear, and scrub if necessary. Pull the ‘beard’ away from each individual mussel. Drain and then check; if the shell is tightly shut, this is a good indication that it’s alive. If the mussel is open, tap it sharply for a few seconds – if it is alive, it will close. Discard any that appear to be dead as they can decompose very quickly.
Heat the butter in a pan, fry the bacon for 4 mins, turning occasionally until it starts becoming crisp. Throw in the shallots and thyme leaves, then cook for 1 min until softened. Turn up the heat to maximum and add the mussels to the pan, then pour over the cider. Place the lid on the pan, give it a good shake, then cook the mussels for 5-7 mins, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that haven’t.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop the mussels out into bowls and place the pan back onto the heat. Bring the juices to the boil and stir in the creme fraiche if using. Pour the sauce over the mussels. Serve with chunky crusty bread and butter.