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Mussels with Chorizo

Putting on some mussel

Mussels with chorizo

This is based on a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall idea for matching shellfish with chorizo – a very Iberian combination – with some purple sprouting broccoli thrown in for good measure. You can use clams instead of mussels, and if you hate broccoli dispense with it and just have some watercress as a salad instead. The cooking takes no time at all and couldn’t easier, but take care preparing the mussels: there are no shortcuts here.

The best wine here might be a Rosado: it will have the fruit to match the warmth of the chorizo, and you want a bit of body without the tannins for a dish like this. Red Rioja addicts might try a very soft, supple light wine, but white would be safer.

Serves 2
a handful purple sprouting broccoli
200g chorizo – preferably the cooking variety, but the ordinary kind is fine
oil for cooking
1 bag mussels
black pepper
squeeze of lemon juice

Prepare the mussels. This is not difficult, but you have to be careful that all the mussels are alive and kicking before you cook them. Remember that they should be closed before you cook them, open afterwards. If any are not, throw them away. In even the freshest mussels there will be a few you’re not certain about, so chuck those out. It’s not worth risking food poisoning, and all you have to do is check each mussel individually.

Make sure you pull off the ‘beard’ of the mussel – the seaweedy, stringy bit that hangs off the shell. Run them under the cold tap and if any of the shells look grubby then give them a quick scrub with a clean brush. A lot may be open when you first attack them: if they don’t close of their own accord when you handle them, rap them sharply on a hard surface. If they still don’t close, throw them away.

You need plenty of bowls to hand for the used shells, and big napkins for greasy fingers – though obviously you’ll be licking your fingers…

Trim the broccoli of hard stems, then steam or boil it for a couple of minutes. Drain and set aside.

Take the skin off the chorizo and slice it about as thickly as a pound coin (if you don’t take the skin off it will tighten round each slice like a rubber hand). You want approximately equal quantities of mussels and chorizo, so just measure by eye. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the slices of chorizo for three or four minutes, until they release that wonderful paprika-flavoured fat, and begin to colour a little. Then throw in the mussels. Clap a lid on the pan, give it a shake and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Take the lid off: if the mussels aren’t all open put it back on and give them another minute or so. The trick with mussels is to cook them just long enough to open them, but no longer or they will become tough. When they’re open, they’re cooked.

Add the broccoli and give it all a good stir so that everything gets coated with the flavours of the chorizo. Give it a bit of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon, and turn it all out into a big bowl. Roll your sleeves up and eat with your fingers!