How to clean mussels
As soon as you get mussels home, put them in a large bowl to begin cleaning the shells. If there are any fibers on the surface of the shells, use a wire scrubber to remove them. Rinse mussels in cold water, put them back in the bowl, cover them with a damp cloth, and refrigerate them until you are ready to use them. The beard – the fibrous strand that comes out from between the halves of the shell and is used by the mussel to attach itself to a rock or other surface – must be taken off right before cooking, since removing it kills the mussel. Take the mussel in one hand and, with your other hand, grab the beard between your thumb and the tip of a spoon and pull hard (maybe it is easier to just use your fingers). If you are serving the mussels without their shells, don’t brother bearding them before cooking them. Once shells are open and mussels are cooked, it’s much easier to remove the beard. Any cooked mussels that don’t open are dead and should be discarded.
Mussels Cooked in beer
4 lbs.(2 kg) mussels, scrubbed
1½ tbsp. rapeseed oil
2 finely chopped shallots
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bottle of beer
1 cup (8 fl. oz.) heavy cream
To make the mussels, heat a large heavy pot over high heat until very hot. Add oil and fry shallots, add mussels and beer. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until mussels fully open (discard any that do not open). Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to 4 warmed bowls.
Add cream to pot, reduce soup by half. Season with salt and pepper and spoon over mussels.
To serve, garnish mussels with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Suggested accompaniment: crusty bread