Savoring the Sea: A Chowder of Mussels With Bacon, Leek, and Lime

If you’re on the quest for the quintessential comfort food, look no further than a steaming bowl of "A Chowder of Mussels With Bacon, Leek, and Lime." This delightful chowder is more than just a dish; it’s a taste of home. Whether you’re seeking solace on a winter’s day or savoring the flavors of summer, this mussel chowder is the perfect answer. The infusion of fresh lime and cilantro gives it a refreshing twist.


The Recipe

Kaffir lime, leek and coconut mussel chowder - Fish in the Family

This delightful recipe is an excerpt from the book "Big Heart Little Stove" by Erin French. You can find the full book on Amazon, but let’s dive into the details of this flavorful chowder.

Ingredients (Serves 8)

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels in the shell
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 3 cups roughly chopped leeks
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cooking Steps

Step 1: Preparing the Mussels

Begin by placing the mussels in a large bowl and completely submerging them in cold water. Discard any mussels that are open or broken and then drain them.

Step 2: Cooking the Mussels

Place a medium heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add the mussels and cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Add ¼ cup of water to the pot, cover it, and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the mussel shells pop open, which should take about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and discard any mussels that have not opened.

Step 3: Preparing the Mussel Meat

Once the mussels are cool enough to handle, pick the meat from the shells and set it aside in a medium bowl. Discard the shells. Strain the delicious cooking juices through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, making sure to avoid any sandy bits at the bottom of the pot.

Step 4: Creating the Chowder Base

In a large heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat a generous drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook it until it begins to brown, which should take about 4 minutes. Add the leeks, celery, onion, garlic, a pinch of salt, and a few turns of pepper. Stir to combine and add the bay leaves and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Sumptuous Flavor for Every Season

Seasonal Flavors: Trends of Winter

"A Chowder of Mussels With Bacon, Leek, and Lime" is a versatile dish that transcends seasons. It’s the embodiment of comfort in a bowl, whether you’re cozying up by the woodstove during the winter or enjoying the fresh sea breeze in the summer. The infusion of lime and cilantro provides a zesty twist that makes this chowder a must-try for seafood enthusiasts.

In Closing

Elevate your culinary adventures with this savory chowder that combines the richness of mussels with the smokiness of bacon, the earthy flavors of leek and thyme, and the refreshing touch of lime and cilantro. Follow the steps, and you’ll have a delectable chowder that’s perfect for any time of the year. Enjoy your journey into the world of "A Chowder of Mussels With Bacon, Leek, and Lime."

The Art of Crafting the Perfect Chowder

How to Make Mussel Chowder?

  1. Strain the Mussel Liquid: Begin by straining the flavorful mussel cooking liquid. This briny essence will become the base of your chowder.

  2. Prepare the Mussels: Remove the mussels from their shells, and if desired, gently remove the small tongue. This step is optional but can enhance the chowder’s texture.

  3. Mussel Preparation: Chop the mussel meat into bite-sized pieces, roughly 3 or 4 pieces per mussel. These delectable morsels will be the heart of your chowder.

  4. Combine with Vegetables: In a separate pot, sauté a medley of vegetables, creating a flavorful foundation for your chowder.

  5. Incorporate the Kumara: Add the diced kumara to the mix, infusing your chowder with earthy richness.

  6. Bring It All Together: Combine the sautéed vegetables, prepared mussels, and the reserved mussel cooking liquid. Season with a dash of salt and a twist of pepper.

With these steps, you’ll create a delightful Mussel Chowder that’s sure to please your palate.

How to Cook Mussels in a Pan?

  1. Start with Butter: Begin by melting butter in a pan until it foams, creating a flavorful base for your mussels.

  2. Add Bacon or Pancetta: Introduce diced bacon or pancetta to the sizzling butter and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

  3. Incorporate Leek and Herbs: Stir in finely chopped leek, fresh thyme, and a bay leaf. Sauté this aromatic mixture for 2-3 minutes until the leek softens slightly.

  4. Boost the Flavors: Crank up the heat and pour in cider, bringing it to a vigorous boil. The cider infusion adds a unique touch to the dish.

  5. Mustard Magic: Stir in your favorite mustard, infusing the pan with its distinctive tangy flavor.

  6. Introduce the Mussels: Add the fresh mussels to the pan, ensuring they’re well-coated with the flavorful mixture. Cover the pan with a lid, sealing in the savory goodness.

Follow these steps to create a delectable mussels dish that’s bursting with rich, savory flavors.

How Do You Cook Mussels in Cider?

  1. Raise the Heat: Increase the heat to high and pour in the cider, allowing it to come to a rolling boil. This step initiates the infusion of cider’s distinct flavor into the dish.

  2. Add Mustard Flavor: Stir in your preferred mustard, enhancing the pan’s contents with its unique and tangy taste.

  3. Introduce the Mussels: Gently add the fresh mussels to the pan, ensuring they are well-coated with the flavorful mixture. Seal in the steamy goodness by placing a lid on the pan.

  4. Steam and Shake: Steam the mussels for approximately 2-3 minutes, giving the pan a good shake once or twice. This helps distribute the flavors evenly.

  5. Open Mussels: When the mussels have nearly all opened, be sure to discard any that remain firmly closed. This ensures you’re using the freshest and most flavorful mussels.

  6. Creamy Finish: To add a creamy richness to the dish, stir in the cream, creating a velvety texture that complements the cider-infused mussels.

Follow these steps to create a delightful mussels in cider dish that’s brimming with vibrant flavors and a touch of creaminess.

What to Serve with Mussels?

  • Mussels and Bacon: Mussels’ swift preparation and inherent sweetness make them a perfect pairing with salty bacon. The combination of these flavors is a culinary delight that’s quick and easy to prepare.

  • Wine or Cider: While the original recipe suggests cider, you can also opt for white wine to accompany your mussels. It’s a matter of personal preference, allowing you to tailor the dish to your taste.

  • Prepare the Mussels: Before serving, ensure that the mussels are properly prepared. Scrub them thoroughly and remove any wiry ‘beards’ attached to the shells. This step ensures that the mussels are clean and ready for cooking.

  • Check for Freshness: Always check the mussels’ freshness by tapping them lightly. Discard any mussels that remain open after a sharp tap, as these might not be suitable for consumption.

Enhance your mussels dish with the perfect accompaniments, whether it’s the savory combination of mussels and bacon or your choice of wine or cider. Preparing the mussels with care ensures a delightful and safe dining experience.

What Are the Key Ingredients for Mussels Chowder?

To craft a delectable Mussels Chowder, you’ll need the following key ingredients:

  • 2 cups white wine: This wine imparts a delicate flavor that complements the mussels beautifully.

  • ½ cup water: Water is an essential component for the base of the chowder.

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: Fresh lemon juice adds a zesty, citrusy note to the dish.

  • 5 pounds mussels: Mussels are the star of the show, so be sure to use fresh ones, scrubbed and with the beards removed.

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter: Butter enriches the chowder and adds a luxurious touch.

  • 4 medium leeks: These leeks are halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, contributing a savory, aromatic quality.

  • 2 carrots: Peel and cut the carrots into ¼-inch dice, providing a hint of sweetness and color.

  • 2 cups red potatoes: The red potatoes, cut into ¼-inch dice, add a hearty, starchy element to the chowder.

These ingredients, thoughtfully combined, create a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that make Mussels Chowder a culinary delight.

What are some good recipes to make with mussels?

Creating delectable dishes with mussels offers a world of culinary possibilities. One such option is a flavorful combination of mussels with rice, shrimp, and peas:

  1. Sauté Vegetables: Start by adding diced onion, bell pepper, and garlic to a pan, and cook them until the vegetables are softened, which typically takes around 3 minutes.

  2. Introduce Rice and Broth: Add rice, flavorful broth, thyme, salt, pepper, and saffron to the pan. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat.

  3. Simmer: Cover the pan and let the ingredients simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

  4. Add Shrimp and Peas: Stir in succulent shrimp and vibrant peas, enhancing the dish’s texture and color.

  5. Layer Mussels: Place fresh mussels on top of the rice in an even layer, ensuring they’re well-distributed.

With this recipe, you’ll create a delightful and visually appealing dish that showcases the versatility of mussels in a medley of flavors and textures.

How to Make Mussel Fried Bacon?

Creating the perfect Mussel Fried Bacon dish is a culinary adventure. Follow these steps for a delectable outcome:

  1. Combine Milk and Mussel Liquid: Slowly pour in milk while continuously stirring. Then, add the filtered mussel cooking liquid. Cook and stir until you achieve a creamy and luscious consistency.

  2. Introduce Bacon, Onion, and Potatoes: Incorporate the fried bacon, finely diced onion, and cooked potatoes into the mixture. Stir them in and allow the flavors to meld for an additional 5 minutes.

  3. Prepare the Mussel Shells: During the last 5 minutes of cooking, take the opportunity to discard most of the mussel shells, ensuring a cleaner presentation. You may choose to keep a few shells for decorative purposes.

By following these steps, you’ll craft a Mussel Fried Bacon dish that harmoniously blends creamy textures with smoky and savory flavors.

How do you cook mussels in Cornwall?

In Cornwall, a coastal culinary delight awaits you with mussels commonly cooked in the local cider. If you’d like to recreate this delicious treat at home, the process is surprisingly simple. Mussels, like most shellfish, don’t require an extended cooking time. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Use Local Cider: Begin by selecting a local cider, preferably from Cornwall or your region, as this will infuse the mussels with a unique, regional flavor.

  2. Quick Steam: Steam the mussels in the cider-based sauce for just a few minutes. This brief cooking time is enough to open their shells, ensuring that you’ll enjoy the most tender and succulent mussel meat.

By following these steps, you can savor the flavors of Cornwall by preparing mussels in cider, a delightful treat that’s both easy and delicious.

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