Serves 6 as an accompaniment to fish or 2 as a soup
2 x 410g tins white beans/haricot blanc
1 large leek, cut in half lengthways and finely sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely sliced
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 bay leaves
2 x Sprig thyme
Small pot parsley, coarsely chopped stalks too
50ml good olive oil
2kg fresh mussels, washed and “debearded”
500ml sauvignon blanc or white wine you like to drink at home
Start off by draining the beans and rinse gently. In a heavy bottomed pan, sweat the vegetables in the olive oil with one sprig of thyme and bay leaves until the onions and celery are translucent. Add the drained beans and set aside off the heat.
Once thoroughly cleaned, heat another pan (large enough to contain the mussels comfortably) and when hot pour the mussels in. Immediately after, add the thyme and pour in the wine and then cover with a lid. Allow a few minutes before removing the lid to check if the mussels have started to open. Give a stir and replace the lid until all the mussels have opened. Remove from the heat with the lid off. Strain the contents in a colander – CAREFUL TO KEEP ALL THE LIQUOR DRAINING OFF. Strain the mussel liquor again through a fine sieve or mesh to remove any remaining grit. Reserve this on the side.
Carefully take the meat from the mussels and add to the bean pan. You may want to keep a few mussels in their shells for presention. Add the liquor to the beans and mussels to the required consistency. If you want it thinner, simply add a little water. Taste for seasoning – it should be seasoned enough by the salty mussel liquor but adjust to your liking.
Gently heat to a simmer and remove. Add the chopped parsely and a little more olive oil if you wish. This works nicely as a sauce to some simply baked fish or equally as a light broth-style soup with some fresh crusty bread.
Due to the nature of mussels, ensure that they come from a reliable supplier and are fresh. The cassoulet can be kept in the fridge for a maximum of three days, so it is possible to prepare in advance.
Joe Taylor, our Sommelier, recommends the following wine to drink with it:
Fairhall Cliffs Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from a vineyard owned by John Marris in Marlborough, New Zealand. It is available from Majestic Wines. If you would like to try in the Restaurant look for it under its Trade Name of Fernlands 2011.
Said Joe: “This is a zesty, light bodied wine with tropical fruit flavours which will go well with the Mussel and White Bean Cassoulet and any shellfish dish”.