“Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh”

Ok, there are no cockles in this post, and I’m not about to break into song, but in a recent issue of Stylist magazine, there was a recipe for mussels cooked in Guinness which I couldn’t resist (if you missed it, see below – slightly adapted from the original). Alongside the mussels wine expert Jane Parkinson recommended Catena Chardonnay from Waitrose, however we only had a Tesco at our disposal so I picked up a bottle of their Finest Argentinian Chardonnay for just £5.69.

Rich and buttery with tropical fruit flavours, this wine cut through the full flavours of the dish beautifully, brightening up the palate and complementing the slightly garlicky mussels. It also went down a treat with the coddle we had for our main course (Luke’s Irish heritage explains the Dublin-themed meal – and he polished off the remaining Guinness with a smile!)

Mussels cooked in Guinness

Ingredients – serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter

A knob of butter
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 rashers smoked bacon, finely chopped
Small bunch fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt
Black pepper
1kg mussels
250ml Guinness
Generous dash of double cream

Method

1. Remove the mussels from the fridge and rinse, removing any dirt and stringy beards. Throw away any that don’t close when you tap them sharply with the back of a knife (it means they’re already dead so not particularly fresh!)
2. Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the shallot and bacon and cook over a medium-high heat until the bacon is cooked and the onion softened
3. Add the garlic, half the thyme and parsley, the bay leaf and some salt and pepper, and cook on a lower heat for a further minute
4. Add the mussels and pour in the Guinness
5. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Place a lid on the pan (or an upturned plate if you don’t have one to fit) to steam open the mussels. This should take just a few minutes
6. Once the mussels are open (throw away any that are still closed as they were probably dead before cooking), remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream and the rest of the parsley and thyme
7. Serve with a big chunk of crusty bread (and some paté for the members of your dinner party who aren’t big shellfish eaters)

Dublin coddle

Ingredients – serves 4

500g potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
1 x 300g pack unsmoked bacon, roughly chopped
6 good quality pork sausages
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
500ml chicken stock
2 medium onions, thickly sliced
Small bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Salt
Black pepper
A knob of butter

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190°c (170°c for a fan oven)
2. Pierce the sausages and place them under the grill to brown (and remove excess fat). Using a pair of scissors, chop each sausage into three pieces
3. In a saucepan, cook the bacon for 5-6 minutes
4. In a casserole dish, layer the sausages and bacon, potatoes, onion, carrots and seasoning, then pour over the chicken stock
5. Put a lid firmly on the pot and cook the coddle for 2 hours
6. After 2 hours remove the lid and dot butter over the surface. Cook for a further 20-30 minutes without the lid to brown and crisp up the top

Serve with buttered cabbage and more crusty bread (if you have room!)

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Filed under Matching Wine with Food, Taste Test

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