This is a classic French recipe but could also be described as curried mussels...
2 tbsp cognac
1 small onion or 1 long shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced or finely chopped
½ tsp of good quality curry powder, mild or hot to your taste
2 tsp plain flour
200ml crème fraiche
Roughly chopped fresh parsley
To serve, warm crusty rustic/French bread, I used a part baked sourdough baguette.
Have a separate covered serving dish/pot to hand which is warm to hold the mussels whilst the sauce is being prepared, along with a colander and bowl to strain and catch the mussels cooking liquid. The mussels will be cooked in another large pan with a lid or you could use a stainless steel bucket like in Marcus’s bucket mussel recipe from the last issue of UK BBQ Magazine.
Put the saffron in a small bowl with a splash of warm water and set aside.
Check the mussels (discard any open ones before cooking, they may close if you tap or squeeze them and any unopen ones after cooking, this is the general guidance). I cooked the whole dish on the Big Green Egg directly over charcoal on the standard grill surface, you could also use an open fire if happy handling cooking on this; either way you will need some heatproof gloves and a suitable cooking spatula.
Mussels – Put the mussels and wine in the cooking pan, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times during this period or until they have all opened. Tip these into a colander over the bowl to collect and save the cooking liquid, there will be a mixture of wine and mussels juices in here which will be used for the sauce. Place the mussels in the warm covered serving dish/pot to add back later.
Sauce - With the pan back on the heat melt the butter, add the onion/shallot, curry powder, garlic and cook gently without browning for 2-3 minutes. Add the cognac and cook this away until almost evaporated (this provides an excellent background flavour to the sauce), stir in the flour and cook out for a further minute being careful to not let it to catch around the edges. Stir in the saffron, then gradually add the mussel cooking liquid holding back the last of this, as it may contain grit or sand.
Simmer the sauce for 2-3 minutes before adding the crème fraiche, simmering for another 2-3 minutes, reducing slightly. Season to taste. Add the mussels back to the pan and stir through, this can be done off the heat. Add the chopped parsley and stir before serving.
This is a reasonably simple dish which packs a depth of flavour and still allow the mussels to shine through. One of my firm favourites which added an interesting twist by cooking this on open flame which I really enjoyed, hope you try it!