Steamed Mussels with Bacon

21 Mar

(serves 3)
This is pretty much your steamed mussels provencal style, but with the tomatoes replaced by bacon bits. The quick steaming method leaves the mussels succulent but still full of flavour. Its perfect as a quick cooking appetizer with minimal preparation, and as a bonus the recipe leaves you enough white wine to accompany the mussels.
  1. Black Mussels (24)
  2. Leek (1 stalk)
  3. Bacon (3 Slices)
  4. Garlic (1bulb = 12 cloves)
  5. Dry White Wine (3/4 cup)
  6. Cream (1/3 cup)
  7. Tarragon
  8. Basil
  9. Thyme


  1. Let me start by discussing the mussels themselves. For this recipe, you should use raw black or blue mussels, nothing that has been pre-cooked or frozen and certainly not those giant green monster mussels.
  2. Place three slices of bacon, stacked on each other, in the freezer.
  3. Soak your mussels in cold water. Scrub with a toothbrush to get rid of grit if you have to and pull out the beards (see notes below).
  4. Slice your leek into half lengthwise and with the flat ends on the board, julienne them into thin slices. Also, peel and mince the garlic through a garlic press.
  5. By now your bacon should be semi-frozen. Slice them lengthwise into 4 smaller strips and then slice them again breadthwise, to end up with small squares. Put this bacon in the pan under medium heat. Make sure the pan comes with a cover.
  6. When the bacon begins to brown and has lost its fat, add the leek and stir-fry for about ten minutes. Then pour in 3/4 cup of white wine. Add 1T tarragon, 1T thyme and 1T basil. When the wine is at a strong boil, stir in the minced garlic and add your mussels. Immediately cover and cook for two minutes.
  7. After two minutes, the mussels would have openned and you should scoop them up onto the serving plates. Discard any mussels which remain firmly closed as those were dead before they were even taken from the sea.
  8. Continue cooking the sauce uncovered after adding 1/3 cup cream. When the liquid has been reduced in volume by half, add 1t  of sugar, 1t black pepper and right at the very end salt to taste. Pour the sauce over your clams.


  • The beard are the ‘roots’ which mussels use to anchor themselves to the sea bed (see picture). Only a bit of the beard may be showing but there is usually more of it concealed in the shell. Use a towel to improve your grip and just firmly pull the beard off. The beard should come off attached to a small flat bone if you’ve done it correctly.
  • Some people make a big deal about using only mussels that are alive. That’s all good, but not everyone can get fresh mussels easily. Consider chilled ‘live’ mussels that are sealed with liquid in 1 kilo plastic packs as an alternative.
  • If you don’t want to add cream at the end, drizzle in virgin olive oil as an alternative.
  • Instead of using salt, try using hon dashi.
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Appetizers, French, Seafood


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