Mussels are quite assertively flavoured and can go head to head with other bold ingredients like chorizo and garlic. The creamy broth is the star here, so make sure to serve this with spoons as well as plenty of bread to mop up every drop.
rapeseed oil 2 tbsp
onion 1 large
smoked Spanish chorizo 200g
garlic cloves 6
plum (roma) tomatoes 6 large
fresh thyme sprigs 4
bay leaves 2
dry white vermouth 240ml
dry white wine 240ml
creme fraiche 225g
fresh flat-leaf parsley 5 or 6 sprigs
crusty bread for serving
Rinse the mussels under cold running water and drain them. If any are open, lightly tap them against the sink. If they close up, they can be cooked. If not, throw them away. Never try to force a closed mussel – raw or cooked – open.
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Chop the onion and add it to the pan. Cook without stirring until it begins to brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. While the onion is cooking, cut the chorizo and pancetta into 12mm dice. Crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife, discard the papery skins and chop.
Add the garlic to the pan and stir just until fragrant. Move the onion and garlic to one side of the pan and add the chorizo and pancetta to the other side. Cook, stirring the chorizo and pancetta occasionally, until they are lightly browned and the fat has rendered, about 8 minutes.
To core the tomatoes easily, slice each downwards next to but not through the stem. Make two angled cuts into the larger half to release the core and discard. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add to the pot with the thyme and bay leaves. Cook until the tomatoes soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the vermouth and wine and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring often, until the liquid has reduced by about a quarter and the tomatoes have broken down, about 10 minutes.
Raise the heat to high. Stir in the creme fraiche and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels, give them a good stir and cover the pan. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, giving the pan a vigorous shake now and then. After 5 minutes, check to see if the mussels have opened. If not, cover and cook for another minute or so until almost all are open. Remove from the heat.
Mussels are brilliant because they let you know they are done when they pop open.
Coarsely chop the parsley (you can include a bit of the tender stems if you want) and stir it in. Using tongs and a ladle, divide the mussels and broth between 6 shallow bowls. Serve with the bread to mop up the fantastic broth.