Serves 4 generously
2 medium leeks, white and pale-green part only, cleaned and finely chopped
4 smallish cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 tsp medium curry powder
A generous pinch of saffron threads
1 tsp ground cumin
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 3-4mm cubes
2kg mussels, debearded and scrubbed (discard any with cracked shells)
150ml dry cider
Freshly ground black pepper
150ml double cream
A handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
A few chives, finely chopped
Sourdough bread (or toast), for mopping and dunking
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the leek, garlic and bay leaf, cover and sweat gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are soft, but not brown. Stir in the curry powder, cumin, saffron and cubes of apple and cook for 2 minutes more until the apple starts to soften.
Add the cleaned mussels and cider. Season generously with pepper, then cover with a lid and turn up the heat. Give the pan a good shake and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the mussels have opened. Discard any that don’t.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop the mussels, leek and apple into a big bowl, leaving the liquid in the pan. Add the cream to the juices and bubble away for 2 minutes. Return the mussel mixture to the pan, together with half the parsley, and stir for a minute, just to warm them through. Divide the mussels and sauce between four bowls, and add a scattering of parsley and chives before serving. Put a bowl in the middle for the shells. When the mussels are finished, eat the remaining juices as soup, then mop the bowl inelegantly with bread.
Lucas Hollweg is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and cook. A former Sunday Times journalist and cookery columnist, he writes for a wide range of food publications. His most recent book is Good Things to Eat.
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