Mussels with watercress, watercress purée & bacon

Mussels with watercress, watercress purée & bacon

By
From
Gather
Serves
2
Photographer
Andrew Montgomery

Here are the three things I was thinking about when I invented this dish. First, my favourite soup of all might be watercress, if it were made as I like it: brilliant green, rich and seasoned to the hilt. Second, like many others, I’m massively partial to the salty sweetness of good, crisp streaky bacon. Third, I have a healthy love for freshly cooked mussels, in all their guises. So, this dish is the child of those ideas, those culinary ‘wants’. Conceived and delivered at my kitchen table, its creation was a quiet labour during a morning well spent. As soon as the mussels are cooked, wilt the watercress and make the purée: move fast and serve everything nice and hot.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
2-4 rashers smoked or unsmoked streaky bacon
1 small knob butter
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
1kg mussels, cleaned
150g watercress, plus extra for serving
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Place a medium frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add a dash of oil followed by the bacon. Cook the bacon for 6–8 minutes, until golden and crisp, or to your liking. Keep warm.
  2. Heat a large pan over a medium heat. Add the butter and a spoonful of bacon fat from the frying pan. When the fat mixture is bubbling, add the onion and garlic, and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook the onion and garlic for 2–3 minutes, until the onion is soft but not coloured, then add the mussels along with 2 tablespoons of water. Place a lid on the pan and give it a gentle shake. Cook the mussels for 1–2 minutes, or until the mussel shells are all just open. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened up.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mussels from the pan to a warm, large bowl, leaving the pan (with the onion and cooking liquor) on the heat. Cover the mussels with a clean tea towel and keep as warm as possible. Throw the watercress into the pan and cook for 1–2 minutes until wilted, then tip the contents of the pan straight into a food processor and purée until smooth.
  4. Place a generous spoonful of purée onto each plate. Divide the mussels equally between the two plates, and finish with a piece of crisp bacon and a little fresh watercress. Serve straight away.
Tags:
River Cottage
seasonal
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