Mussells, fennel & chorizo in an apple and fennel bread bowl

Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I was so hungry I even ate the bowl! Who can resist a blog event? When I saw Zen Chef's fennel/ pastrami gratin entry for Beet 'n Squash You (the monthly food- fight wherein the stupendous virtues of vegetables are extolled) , it immediately tickled the taste buds, and got me into thinking what could I do?

I'd been looking at mussells and chorizo in cider a couple of nights before, and thought it would go well with fennel seed bread...... which reminded me of Jules' bread bowls. I like combining recipes. You always need bread to go with mussells - so there seemed no better excuse to make a bread bowl.

As we live next to cider country (Herefordshire) I like using cider with mussells, although we also have some very good vinyards nearby too - you could use either white wine or cider.

Stage 1 - Fennel & fennel seed bread backets

I only need a few baskets (this made 5 ramekin size) so used:

250g bread flour
130ml cider & apple juice combined (was going to use all cider but ran out)
20ml olive oil
1/2 tsp of instant action yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (though with the cider didn't really need this)
1/2 bulb fennel diced small and roasted in olive oil till soft & cooled.
Fennel seeds

For method see here. When it had proved I knocked it back and mixed in the roasted dice fennel and a few fennel seeds. Then rolled them out to fit over the ramekins.

Stage 2 - Look at those mussells!

At the end of the Cotswold Way 3 1/2 years ago we ended up in Bath.... and it's Loch Fyne restaurant. If you happen to be nearby their rope grown mussells are really the best. Of course there are lots of other Loch Fyne restaurants too. At that time they also had a fish counter you could buy from - the same way other restaurants have delis attached. Not sure if they still do, but you can also shop online - so that's good to know. Rope grown means you don't have the grit you can find in dredged mussells - that's always good.
I always plunge them into cold water. The ones which float and any that don't close when you tap them (dead) are to be avoided. Then it's just a matter of cleaning and de-bearding them. There's a few more tips here.

Stage 3 -

I sweated the shredded fennel, onions, choizo & garlic in a little olive oil. Then added cider and allowed the onions & fennel to soften (don't really like crunchy onions & fennel with mussells) before adding the mussells. Put a lid on to let it steam and the mussells are cooked in 2 - 3 minutes.

I then removed the mussells and thickened the sauce a little with cornflour so it would sit in the bread bowl without making running through the bread basket. Oh and a few chives at the last minute.

Once the mussells had cooled a little I took most of them out of the shell and then dropped them back in the sauce before spooning it in the baskets.

If you're not a meat fan you could go with smoked paprika instead of the chorizo.

It was definitely an interesting way of serving them!

Oh and there's 9 days left to enter my blog/ twitter/ facebook event by the way!


theundergroundrestaurant said...

I keep meaning to make soup bread bowls...

James said...

Suprisingly easy.

There's also the loaf which you hollow out.