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Mussel and Onion Stew

Mussels fresh from the rocks of the West Country make this substantial stew an unusual main course. Good-quality mussels are widely available and, so long as you discard the dead ones, should not cause digestive trouble. This stew is easier to eat than mussel dishes where the shells are not removed.

ingredients

serves 4
1 kg (4 1/2 lb) fresh mussels
150 ml (1/4 pint) dry white wine
25 g (1 oz) butter
2 large onions, skinned and chopped
25 g (1 oz) plain wholemeal flour
300 ml (1/2 pint) fresh milk ~
30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley
30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh single cream

method

1. To prepare the mussels, wash them thoroughly under running cold water, then scrape off any barnacles with a small sharp knife. Cut off the fibrous beards that protrude from between the shells. Wash in several changes of water. Discard any that are cracked or do not close when tapped sharply with a knife.

2. Put the wine in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over a high heat for3-4 minutes or until the mussels open, shaking the pan occasionally. Discard any mussels that have not opened.

3. Drain the mussels, reserving the juice. Remove mussels from the shells.

4. Melt the butter in a saucepan and lightly fry the onions for about 5 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute.

5. Gradually add the milk and the mussel cooking liquid, stirring, until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth. Simmer for 1 - 2 minutes.

6. Return mussels to the pan with the parsley and cream. Reheat gently. Serve with crusty bread.

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