Scotland is one of my favourite places to have every visited and it holds a special place in our hearts (I know, cue the tears). Most of my friends would agree, Brianna especially, that I love anything Scottish including seafood and whisky. This (surprise, surprise) is another Jamie Oliver recipe that we saw on his latest show, and we immediately knew that we had to try it. Brianna has only recently started to enjoy mussels as much as I do, and she will admit that this was excellent. One tip, watch your hair when you go to light the scotch… I managed to singe a few hairs even though Jamie gives full warning of what is about to happen. Thanks to Brianna’s parents for being the willing guinea pigs, and supplying the scotch.
Highland Mussels with Juicy Whisky Cream (serves 6)
4 1/2 pounds of mussels
1 large leek
1 large celery stick
2 tbsp. butter
8 oz. of smoked haddock (this is hard to find in Canada, at least fresh, so we substituted bacon!)
6 oz. scotch (I would avoid anything that is heavy on the peat)
3/4 cups of heavy cream
small bunch of parsley
a loaf of sourdough bread
Because we were not able to get smoked haddock (or smokies as they call them in Scotland), we started by cooking the bacon in the bottom of a wide, deep pot until it was crispy, and then set it aside, reserving the fat from the bacon in substitute for the olive oil that is used in here.
If you are using smokies, you can start here by cleaning the leeks and celery, and slicing them thinly. Then, make sure to wash and de-beard the mussels. If you have never cooked mussels before (this was admittedly our first crack) this means to remove any of the wire wool looking stuff that will be stuck to the shells. In a deep, wide bottom pot, melt the butter in a small amount of oil on medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and celery and cook until they are tender, approximately 10 minutes. Once this is done, flake in the smoked haddock (if you are using bacon, add it back here), and then add the whisky! The smell will instantly start to permeate through your kitchen. The alcohol should be boiling off here, but for added effect, stand back (seriously), and light the vapours. After about 30 to 45 seconds, the flame will begin to die a little and you can throw the lid on to put out the flame. Next, add the mussels and cream to the pot and put the lid on and cook for 3-4 minutes or until all the mussels have popped open. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon and leave the cream mixture simmering until it is at your desired thickness. Season the sauce to taste, it shouldn’t require a whole lot of salt.
The mussels should be in whatever serving bowl you are using. When your sauce is ready, add the chopped parsley to the cream, reserving a bunch of leaves to finish on top of the mussels. Pour the sauce on top of the mussels, drizzle with some olive oil, and finish with some more fresh parsley on top.
Serve the mussels with either toasted or fresh sourdough bread to soak up the wonderful sauce.
I will certainly be making this recipe again, once the mussels are in their prime. This was an excellent meal, and took only 30 minutes to put it all together. If you do not like whisky, I am sure this would be good substituted with white wine as well.
I hope some of you experiment with this one, it was well worth it.
*Original Recipe from Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver