- Fresh mussels - 1 1/2 kilos
- 150 grams bread crumbs
- Fat bunch flat leaf parsley
- 100 grams grated Pecorino cheese
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon of cayenne ( I like the heat)
- 1/2 medium red onion
First things first. Get up early, get your sleepy hoop outta bed and get to Howth or Dun Laoghaire harbour and buy your mussels from the men and women that devote their lives to bringing us 'the good stuff'!
Mussels can be as simple or as complex as you want them, I really dig just eating these right out of the pot, no faff, but sometimes I like to go a bit 'Christmas tree' on things... This, good people is one of those times!
All the fine ingredients.
Kick things off by prepping up the mussels - there's two stages to this, first rip off their beards. You can't miss these, the mussel uses them to cling to the rocks or ropes. They pull away with a quick tug.
Next scrub the mussels under cold running water, get rid of any sea debris and barnacles. At this stage any mussels that don't close up tight you need to get rid of - they are dead. To make sure tap the open mussel with the back of a knife and if does not react, bin it.
Because this is not the end cooking point I'm just steaming these open - this is not moules mariniere so there is no need for garlic, wine, etc. Sling the mussels into a pot with about 50mls of water just to get things going. Put on the lid and steam the mussels for about 4-6 minutes shaking the pot regularly (this might take less time depending on how accommodating your mussels are).
When the mussels begin to open they are done- get them out and away from the heat. Another important point is that any mussels that have not opened or any you have to force open are dead - sling them in the bin.
Open all the mussels and separate meat from shell. Keep half the shells and place 2-3 mussels on the half shell, I use sea salt on a baking tray to keep them steady and up right.
To make the stuffing- run the knife through the onion and parsley, zest the lemon and grate the cheese.
In a pan saute the onion until just soft in about 100 grams of butter (or olive oil if you prefer).
To make the stuffing simply combine parsley, cheese, cayenne, onion and lemon with the bread crumbs - season to taste, you want this punchy.
To stuff the mussels spoon a small amount of the stuffing directly onto the half shell and press it down to form what looks like a little mound.
Sling these beauties under a screaming hot grill for about 4-6 minutes or until they are golden crisp brown - watch like a hawk!!
The best thing to serve these with is a mountain of skinny homemade fries and a buzzy white wine.