Vancouver Sun

Mussels in beer

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Cooks often turn to wine when cooking mussels, but beer adds a heartier flavour. If the mussels still have their beard attached, cut it off with a small knife. Discard any that don’t close or have broken shells. From Bitter by Jennifer McLagan. — Mia Stainsby

2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter 1 onion, finely chopped ½ small fennel bulb, finely chopped, fronds set aside ½ serrano chili with seeds 1 cup (250 mL) lager or pale ale 1 tbsp (15 mL) coriander seeds, crushed and placed in tea ball or wrapped in cheeseclot­h 1 fresh bay leaf 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) cleaned mussels ½ tsp (5 mL) sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Crusty bread, to serve

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When melted, add the onion, fennel and chili. Cook, stirring from time to time until the vegetables soften and begin to caramelize.

Add the beer, coriander and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, then add the cleaned mussels. Stir, then cover and cook for about 5 minutes, giving the pan a couple of shakes until the mussels open. Discard any that don’t open. While mussels are cooking, chop the fennel fronds.

Remove the coriander seeds and bay leaf from the pan. Season the mussels with salt and pepper. Ladle the mussels and liquid into warm bowls. Sprinkle with the chopped fronds and serve with crusty bread.

Makes 2 main courses or 4 starters.

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