A delightful variation on Yorkshire puddings for which you should use a muffin tray which will probably give you in the region of 16 to 20 individual puddings. Make a jug of Yorkshire pudding batter and let it rest. Cook your mussels in the usual way, reserving some of the liquor. Preheat the pudding cases in a hot oven with a small splash of vegetable oil in each and allow this to get piping hot. Pour some of the batter into each pudding case and add 2 or 3 shelled mussels to each one. Pop them back in the hot oven until they have risen nicely and are golden brown. Serve immediately with a side dish of mushy peas thinned with some of the reserved mussel liquor.
This is how I imagine the great Ambrose Heath might have described my attempt to create a new method for serving mussels. My parents and grandparents were great advocates of Ambrose Heath whose cookery books are a delight to read. Each recipe usually consists of little more than a few ideas with sparse instructions and a usual refrain to do things ‘in the usual way’. Yet what comes across in his writing is a great love of good, simple food, relying on fresh ingredients, assembled with confidence and served for all to enjoy. Less of a cookery book and more a celebration of culinary creativity, similar I find, to the tone of Nigel Slater, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and (a personal favourite), The Convivial Cookbook.
However in recognition that many of us (myself included) lack the panache and ability to simply knock up a Yorkshire pudding from nowhere and prefer to be reasonably confident that we are cooking our mussels with some degree of accuracy, here is a more detailed version.
Ingredients (makes approx. 16-20)
2 large free-range eggs
100g plain flour
A tiny pinch of salt
1kg fresh mussels, de-bearded and clean
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 glass dry white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
Ground black pepper
The first time I made this dish, I simply used a tin of prepared mushy peas. But there are plenty of recipes out there for mushy peas, pea puree and other variations. If you are making your own, I suggest incorporating some of the reserved mussel liquor
Preheat your oven to 220’C
Use a couple of muffin or bun tins and drop a small amount of vegetable oil into the compartments (you are going to make about 16-20 depending on how much batter you use in each compartment).
Put your tins in the oven so that the oil gets smoky hot.
For the Yorkshire pudding batter, beat together the eggs, flour, milk and salt until light and smooth and pour into a jug to rest for a few minutes.
For the mussels, melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions and garlic until soft but not browned. Add wine, mussels and grind in some black pepper. You will not need salt – the mussels will provide this. Cover the pan and cook until the mussels open (about 2-3 minutes), shaking the pan periodically to ensure all the mussels get cooked. Leave them to cool for a few minutes before shelling the mussels and reserving the liquor.
Your oiled tins should be nice and hot by now so when you are ready, remove the tins from the oven and pour some of the batter into each compartment. Depending on how deep your compartments are, you can fill them nearly to the brim, or less if you want to make more puddings in total. Quickly add 2 or 3 shelled mussels to each compartment and return them to the hot oven to cook for around 10-12 minutes, or until they have risen nicely and are golden brown.
While they are cooking, warm your mushy peas and thin it out a bit with some of the reserved mussel liquor.
When your puddings are ready, serve them with a spoonful of peas and wash it down with a good honest cup of tea, beer or a dry white wine.