I love the hands-on experience of eating mussels, using the shell of one like tweezers to pick out the mussel from another, and dunking big hunks of baguette into the sauce. It's a mess, but so ridiculously good and a lot of fun. Getting tipsy on plenty of white wine adds to the amusement.
1kg Mussels, cleaned and debearded
100g Lardons or bacon, diced
1 Shallot, finely diced
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Pinch of cayenne pepper
12cl White wine
40g Butter, divided into several pats
2T Toasted Breadcrumbs
2T Parsley, freshly chopped
Salt and pepper
Check over the mussels to make sure they are clean and debearded, and discard and broken or dead ones. Keep cool in the fridge.
In the meantime, gently render out the fat from the lardons or bacon on medium low heat until the meat is golden brown and crisp. Remove the lardon/bacon, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the shallots and cook until they soften and become translucent, careful they don't become too brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one additional minute. Next, add the pinch of cayenne followed by the mussels. Turn up the heat to medium high and pour the white wine over the mussels. Cover with a lid and cook 3-4 minutes, shaking the pot slightly halfway through cooking to try to move around the mussels, just like making popcorn.
Once the mussels have opened, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and add the butter, breadcrumbs, and parsley. Stir to coat the mussels. Check the seasoning and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lots of white wine and good bread for dipping.