Mussels have a reputation for being difficult to cook, but this is just not true. The hardest part in reality is the washing. Place them in cold water (they should close, if they don’t you should throw them away). Scrub any dirt off the surface of the mussels and remove the beard with a small knife. If you can get this down you will have no trouble and they take minutes to cook, so they’re the perfect little starter. I love serving the pot straight to the table from the stove and clunking large spoonfuls of the cooked steaming mussels onto guest’s plates. Make sure to serve with some chunky bread to mop up the juices!

Serves 4
1.5kg mussels, washed and the beards removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
200g of pancetta pieces
A good knob of butter
400ml good Irish cider
4 tablespoons of cream
A good handful of freshly chopped, parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Discard any mussels that are open before cooking and any that stay closed after cooking.

Place a large pot over a high heat and brown the pancetta pieces until just golden and sizzling. Add in a knob of butter, allow it to melt and then add the onion and garlic. Cook gently for three minutes until the onion is soft.

Add in the cider and allow to bubble away for a few minutes so all the flavours mingle in together. Tumble in the mussels, cover with a lid and allow them to steam for about four minutes until they open, making sure to give the pot a good shake once or twice during the cooking time.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and parsley and season with sea salt and ground black pepper.

Serve with some crusty bread to mop up the liquid!