Recipe of the day: Moules au Cidre, Mussels cooked in Cider

18 Nov

 Moules au Cidre, Mussels cooked in Cider  is my take on the French classic  moules marinieres ,using cider instead of wine and my magic little touch fennel.

Mussel tips and info

COOKING TIPS: Mussels are most often steamed open over a small amount of flavoured liquid, as in Moules marinière, although they can also be oven roasted and are particularly good cooked ‘en papillote’ (in a bag). Wine, stock, beer and cider are all great for cooking mussels, but take care not to add salt to the liquid as mussel juice can be very salty If a mussel is unopened after cooking , this indicates that it was already dead. You will probably notice the colour of the meat varies between beige and orange. This is an indication of sex – beige for male and orange for female; there is no difference in flavour.  A great way to eat is by pullingl the meat from one shell and then use that shell as a pincer to remove meat from the rest. Serve simply with crusty bread – lovely!

Buying the best

Mussels in the shell are sold either alive or pre-cooked. They’re available out of the shell as ‘mussel meat’, or brined or pickled in cans. For cooking, you really want live mussels in the shell. Farmed mussels are a particularly good buy as they are often more appealing to look at and require a lot less scrubbing under the tap to remove barnacles. Live mussels are often sold pre-weighed in a net bag, and should be kept cool on the way home.

Storing live mussels

Don’t leave them wrapped in a plastic bag (they can suffocate), or soaking in water, as chemicals and the lack of salinity (salt) can also kill them. Instead, keep them in a bowl, lightly covered with damp kitchen paper, in the bottom of the fridge – not too cold or they won’t last as long. They can then last up to five days – although you should expect to lose quite a few over this length of time, so it’s best to eat them on the day of purchase.


Serves 4, or if you’re really greedy like me serves 2.

• olive oil

• Small knob butter

• 2kg mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed clean (ask your fishmonger to do this for you)

• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

• 150ml good-quality cider

• 2 tablespoons crème fraîche

• 4 banana shallots, finely sliced

• 1 small fennel bulb , finely sliced

• 2 bay leaves

• a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped

• 1 chili finely sliced and de-seeded (this is optional don’t add if you don’t want )


1. Raw mussels MUST be alive when you cook them, so careful preparation is key. Wash them under cold running water until it runs clear, and scrub if necessary. Pull the ‘beard’ away from each individual mussel – this is the byssus thread, a protein the mussel ‘spins’ so it can attach itself to rock or rope. 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 rapidly, and eating one that you aren’t sure of is not worth the risk. Don’t check them too far in advance; cook within a few minutes to be on the safe side.

2. Heat the butter and oil in a pan large enough to easily fit the mussels, Throw in the shallots ,fennel, garlic bay leaves, then cook for 3-5 min`s until softened.

Whack the heat up to maximum pour in the cider and bring to the boil, then tip in the mussels and place a lid on the pan.give it a good shake, then cook the mussels for 3-5 min`s, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that haven’t.

3. stir in the crème fraîche, add the chili (if desired) and  scatter the parsley all over. scoop the mussels into bowls. Serve with hunks of my crusty parmesan and sun-dried tomato bread for mopping up the sauce.






Still not sure or scared about cooking mussels, I could come and cook them for you and your family.




For info mail or phone: 0642297107

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