Serves 4 


  • Small knob of butter 
  • 6 rashers of chopped rindless streaky bacon 
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed 
  • Small bunch thyme, leaves stripped 
  • 1.5kg small mussels, scrubbed and bearded 
  • 400ml of dry cider  
  • 4 tbsp crème fraiche or 100ml double cream 
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper 

Raw mussels MUST be alive when you cook them, so careful preparation is key. Wash them under cold running water until it runs clear, and scrub if necessary. Pull the ‘beard’ away from each mussel and discard. Drain and then check; if the shell is tightly shut, this is a good indication that it’s alive. If the mussel is open, tap it sharply for a few seconds – if it is alive, it will close. Discard any that appear to be dead. Don’t check them too far in advance; cook within a few minutes to be on the safe side.  

Heat the butter in a large pot big enough to fit the mussels (you may need two, depending how many you’re feeding) and fry the bacon for 4 minutes, turning occasionally until it starts to become crisp. Add the shallots, garlic and thyme leaves, and then cook for 1-2 minutes until softened.  Add the cider, turn up the heat and simmer for a minute or so. Add the mussels and crème fraiche/cream, season and cook with a lid on for approximately 5 minutes, giving the pan a good shake now and again until all the mussels have opened. Serve immediately in bowls with the liquor and hunks of crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.  Remember to provide spare bowls for the shells. 


In season at this time of year;  

Fruit, Nuts & Fungi 
Apples, Chestnuts, Pears (late – Concorde, Doyenne du Comice, Conference and Winter Nellis), Rhubarb (forced), Walnuts 
Vegetables & Herbs 
Jerusalem Artichokes, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Kale, Leeks, Parsnips, Potatoes, Swede, Turnips. 
Meat & Game 
Duck, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Partridge, Venison 
Fish & Shellfish 
Brill, Clams, Cockles, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Monkfish, Mussels, Oyster, Plaice, Turbot. 

Going out of season 
Cabbage, Cauliflower, Goose, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Leek, Parsnip, Rhubarb, Swede, Truffle.