Mussels Steamed in IPA Beer, Leeks, Bacon, Pommery Mustard and a Touch of Cream

Serves 2 as a main course; 4 as an appetizer

In less than 20 minutes, you and your partner can dive into this pot of succulent mussels cooked with bacon and beer and slurp away. What a combination. Garlicky toasted French bread to soak up the sauce is a must. After plucking the first mussel from the shell, enjoy using an empty shell as a pincher to remove the rest. One for you, one for me! Yum.

4 ounces smoky slab bacon, cut into lardons
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
White and pale green parts of 1 leek, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons each chopped flat-leaf parsley and fresh thyme leaves, plus additional for garnish
2 pounds farmed mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 (9 ounce) bottle IPA beer
6 ounces chicken or fish stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons whole grain Pommery mustard
Generous pinch red pepper flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 (1/2-thick) slices French bread rubbed with olive oil and garlic and grilled or toasted

  1. In a large pot, combine the bacon and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until the pieces start to brown and are almost cooked through, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add enough oil to the pan to have about 2 tablespoons fat. Stir in the leek and cook until wilted, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and herbs, cook for 30 seconds, then add the mussels in a single layer. Pour in the beer and stock, cover and cook over high heat or until the mussels have opened, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan a couple times. With a slotted spoon, remove them to bowls. Discard any that don’t open.
  3. Stir in the mustard, cream and red pepper flakes. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to the desired consistency. Return the bacon to the pan to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, spoon the sauce over the mussels and garnish with the remaining herbs. Serve with toasted or grilled French bread.