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West Coast mussels with white wine, leeks, lemon & cream

Nothing beats the distinctive flavour of fresh black mussels, straight from the beautiful West Coast. Don’t overcook them – they just need a few minutes of hot steam in your pot of wine and leeks. Some lemon rind adds a nice zesty touch. Serve hot with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

(serves 4-6, prep/cooking time: 30min)

•    30 ml olive oil
•    30 ml butter
•    one small bunch leeks, finely chopped (white parts only)
•    3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
•    half a bottle white wine (chenin blanc works well)
•    1,5 - 2 kg fresh black mussels, cleaned*
•    125 ml fresh cream
•    rind of a lemon, finely grated
•    salt & pepper to taste
•    chopped fresh herbs, to serve (parsley & dill work well)

*To clean fresh mussels, rinse them under cold tap water. Scrub the outsides if they are a little hairy, then pull off the grassy “beard” from the pointy side to the round side. They are now ready for the pot. Remember, any mussels that aren't closed before cooking should be discarded. And any mussels that haven't open after cooking, should also be tossed.

In a wide heavy-based pot/casserole, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Fry the leeks & garlic until soft and translucent, but not too brown. Add the wine, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Add the mussels all at once and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil again and steam for 5-8 minutes until they are open and just cooked. Add the cream and heat through, then take off the heat and add the lemon rind. Season to taste with salt & pepper (some mussels can be very salty already, so be careful).

Serve scattered with chopped herbs, with a glass of Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc.

About the wine: 

This wine is sourced predominantly from a unique 35-year-old vineyard in Tygerberg, Durbanville.  Bright and yellow-tinged this beauty has a slightly golden core, and has been oak fermented and matured. The nose immediately offers ripe, baked apples and apple pie spice. A combination of savoury notes and pure fruit gives beautiful layers of complexity to a rich entry and powerful palate. This is a full-bodied, seriously structured Chenin Blanc that will age well over the next decade.  

(Recipe: Ilse van der Merwe, Photography: Tasha Seccombe)

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