Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Mussels, garlic, herbs, beer butter sauce

I've constantly got so many thoughts going around in my head- that when I pondered the thought of starting a food blog- I was like, sure I can totally do that. So I've just sat down to my computer now to begin typing my first EVER blog and I just froze for a few moments. Why is it so hard to put our thoughts in writing? If there was a way to transfer my thoughts without having to sit and type- I'd be laughing- and so would probably everyone else. My thoughts are complex- seriously!

I've pondered for days what my first blog would be about- would I write more about myself? Tell you what I want to achieve? Give up my best ever recipe? It's been tough. But the time has come-
I've been planning this in my head for a while now- and it's suddenly D day!

So... my decision, all be it a quick one, was to tell you about a recipe I devised just last week. It was for the Launceston Beer Festival. The challenge was to cook with beer. I've never even considered such a thing! To be totally honest, I don't even overly enjoy beer- unless ofcourse it's a gorgeous Aussie day and it's dam hot outside. So, to cook with it was somewhat of a challenge!

I got an idea from Ali (my best friend and partner in crime) to cook with mussels- gorgeous Tasmanian Spring Bay mussels. One has me thinking she liked this idea as Curtis Stone also has a version. So I googled for a bit, got a few further ideas, and away I went. I trialed a few different cooking methods (including adding orange juice for some sweetness- it didn't work), used a few different beers (pale ale, draught- they didn't work) and the end results were all... well... pretty horrible! What a disaster!

Thanks to the guys from James Squire I eventually got the mix just right! They suggested their light tasting Sundown Lager. And I must say... YUM! The mussels in beer were a big hit and probably lined our stomachs just in time for a big night!

These mussels are super quick, super affordable and super yummy! Even the most basic home cook can manage this! A great idea for a casual dinner with friends or a tapas night.

My only tip- make a trip to your local baker to get a good quality loaf of crusty bread to soak up all the juices!

Get this
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions diced
6 cloves purple garlic finely sliced
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
2 kg black mussels- cleaned
150ml JS Sundown lager (or any light beer)
2 large lemons juiced
140g butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley and crusty bread to serve

Cook now
Start by heating the oil in a large pot (I used a stock pot). Add the onions and garlic and sweat down until translucent. Add the bay leaves and thyme and stir until the aromas are around you. 
Add the cleaned mussels and stir, ensuring you coat each of them with the onion mixture.  Add the beer and lemon juice and put a lid on the pot. Leave for about 3 minutes.
When the mussels have opened, strain the juices into a smaller pot or fry pan. Its best to strain the juices through a sieve in case there were any yucky bits from the mussels. Keep the lid on the mussels to keep warm and set aside.
Place your juices on a medium-high heat and let some of the alcohol evaporate. After about a minute begin to gradually add cubes of butter. Constantly whisk until all the butter is used. Season with a good pinch of sea salt and cracked pepper. Taste.

To serve place even amounts of mussels into your bowls. Pour over the beer butter sauce, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with a piece of crusty bread.

Buon appetito!
Serves 6 as a tapas or 4 as a main


  1. The Sundown lager is an excellent choice

  2. Thanks Deena! Its a bit of a working progress at this stage- but hopefully will come together nicely in time :)
    LOving your blog too by the way! Makes me want to pack up and go again!

  3. Hi Esther - love the blog. We've got a great mussels dish on at Blue Eye at the moment - steamed with cider & chilli definitely worth a try! See you soon.