About this recipe:The combination of Pernod and fennel adds a wonderful aniseed flavour to this popular seafood dish, which just needs some crusty wholemeal bread to mop up the tasty juices. Mussels are low in fat and rich in many minerals, including iron and zinc.
25g unsalted butter
2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
125ml vegetable stock
4 tbsp Pernod
2kg fresh mussels in shell, cleaned
4 tbsp extra-thick single cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
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Method Prep:35min › Cook:20min › Ready in:55min
Melt the butter in a saucepan large enough to hold the mussels. Add the leeks, fennel and garlic and fry gently for 5 minutes.
Add the stock and bring to the boil, then cover and cook gently for 8–10 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the Pernod and bring back to the boil.
Add the mussels to the pan, cover tightly again and cook over a moderate heat for 4–5 minutes until the shells open, shaking the pan occasionally. Discard any unopened mussels.
Carefully pour the cooking liquid into a small pan and set the covered pan of mussels aside. Stir the cream and chopped parsley into the cooking liquid and heat gently, without boiling. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Tip the mussels and vegetables into a large, warmed dish or tureen and pour over the sauce. Serve at once.
To clean mussels, scrub them well using a small, stiff brush under cold running water, to remove any grit, sand and barnacles. Pull off and discard the hairy ‘beard’ protruding from the side of the shells. Sharply tap any open mussels with the back of a knife, and discard any that don't close. Rinse and drain the mussels once again before use.
Instead of Pernod, use Greek ouzo or dry white wine.