A Chowder of Mussels and Leeks
- leeks 3
- smoked bacon 5 ounces (150g)
- butter 3 tablespoons (40g)
- mussels 2 pounds (1kg)
- white vermouth 2 glasses
- potatoes 1 pound (450g)
- heavy cream 3/4 cup (200ml)
- bay leaves a couple
- thyme 4 sprigs
- parsley a few sprigs, chopped
- Thinly slice the leeks and rinse them very thoroughly.
- No vegetable holds its grit like a leek.
- Cut the bacon into short, thin strips and put them into a deep, thick-bottomed pan with the butter.
- Let the bacon color lightly over medium heat.
- Decrease the heat, add the leeks, and cover with a lid.
- Let them cook for twenty minutes or so, with an occasional stir, until they are soft and sweetthey should not color.
- Remove from the heat.
- Check the mussels and pull away any beards.
- Discard any mussels that are broken, open, or exceptionally heavy.
- Put them in a large pot, pour in the vermouth, and cover tightly with a lid.
- Place over high heat until the mussels have opened (a matter of minutes), then remove each mussel from its shell.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into large dice.
- Put them in a saucepan with 1 3/4 cups (400ml) of the mussel cooking liquor, drained through a sieve.
- Add the cream, bay, thyme, and a little black pepper (no salt).
- Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat so that the potatoes simmer gently for about ten minutes.
- Add three-quarters of the cooked potatoes to the leeks and bacon.
- Put the remainder in a blender with the cream (pick out the herbs first) and blitz briefly until smooth (too long and it will turn gummy).
- Pour into the pan and add the mussels and parsley.
- Bring all to a boil and serve.