Emergency Mussels and Saturday Breakfasts

24 Mar

We eat less than half of the mussels we ‘produce’ in this country, which tells me we should be eating more of them. The Marine Conservation Society also suggest they are slightly under-exploited. I’ve seen them all around the coast in the UK and have even picked some from the seashore in the South West. When I’ve searched for old English recipes with mussels they always seem to be an ingredient that is added to a stew or pie, and sometimes grilled. They are not always given centre stage and indeed have been called the poor man’s shellfish.

I didn’t have a whole lot at home yesterday but was able to pick up a bag of mussels on the way home for my dinner knowing that I didn’t have an awful lot of time before I had to go out again.  However, mussels are notoriously deceptive in that you always buy them thinking that they won’t take long to cook but you always forget about the de-bearding process. Mussels attach themselves to things with their beards. I’m quite pleased that humans don’t do the same.


When I got home and realized just how little food I had, I initially thought the worst. But mussels lend themselves to few ingredients so I went to the garden and pulled up a leek and took an apple out of the fruit bowl. I rinsed, chopped and fried the  leeks in only the water that still clung to its surface. I added the chopped apple and a little cayenne pepper for good luck. Next in was the some leftover homemade elderflower wine and then the mussels. Lid on. A few minutes later the mussels were ready and I stirred in a bit of cream and threw some herbs from the garden on it. Job done and very little washing up to do.

Mussels in a rush

I must have got the proportions in the sauce spot on because it was lovely. It was sweet but just fell short of overpowering the mussels and the cayenne pepper was just there in the background. To be honest, this was more luck than judgement. I trusted the force and it came through.

(Marine Conservation Society Website and Greenpeace’s take on sustainable fishing)

I love my Saturday morning breakfast. They invariably revolve around spinach or chard but this morning I did add something I’ve never had for breakfast before. Ox kidney. I do enjoy pigs kidneys but these ox kidneys were more brainlike in appearance and there was a smaller proportion of soft meat on them. Nevertheless, I sliced off the soft parts fried them in some butter with a portobello mushroom, added some rinsed spinach and allowed it all to wilt down before cracking an egg over the top and whisking it around to scramble it. It was quick and really enjoyable. I’m not sure I needed the egg but it was still nice. Not overcooking the kidney was extremely important, as it seems to be with all organs. Keep the difference in texture between the mushrooms and the kidney to a minimum, if you know what I’m getting at!

Roll on the day. It’s been glorious weather this week and today looks marvellous too. Fine day for a nice beer.


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