Cider and seafood recipe for mussels and clams with bacon

Mussels and clams with bacon

Cider and seafood works at least as well together as fish and white wine and can often be used instead. This cider and seafood recipe is loosely based on moules à la normande but uses a medium-dry cider to balance out the sweetness of the cream. The clams and bacon give it a Portuguese twist. To bring it back to the original, leave them out and use a cidre bouché.

Show us yer mussels! Photo by Clinton & Charles Roberts

Mussels and clams with bacon

Serves 4

Preparation: 5-10 minutes to clean shells plus another 5 minutes.
Cooking: 20 minutes.


1.5kg mussels
500g clams
250ml medium dry cider
20g unsalted butter
150g smoked bacon lardons or pancetta
2 leeks
75ml crème fraiche (or double cream if you prefer)
2tsp Dijon mustard
125g samphire
1 bay leaf
1 handful of chopped flat leaf parsley


Melt the butter in a pan. Add the lardons and brown them. Slice the leek lengthways and wash it. Cut it again into pieces about an inch (2.5cm) long. Add the leeks, chopped shallots, bayleaf and half the parsley to the pot.

Stir, cover and sweat them over a low heat until the leeks and shallots are soft but not brown, for five to 10 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the cider, mussels, clams and samphire. Cover and cook for three to five minutes, until the shellfish have opened, giving the pan a shake from time to time.

Meanwhile, combine the cream and Dijon mustard. Take the shellfish out and keep them war. Remove and throw away any that have not opened. Pour the crème fraîche and mustard into the sauce and give it all a stir.

Reduce it by a third. Return the shellfish to the sauce and give everything a swish. Then serve the shellfish and sauce in bowls, scattered with the remaining parsley.

You can accompany this with more of the same cider and some crusty bread.


1) Clean the shellfish and the leeks. Chop the leeks, shallots and parsley.
2) Fry the lardons in the butter until they are brown on a low heat.
3) Add the chopped leeks, shallots, bayleaf and half the parsley. Cover and sweat them until the leeks are soft but not brown (5-10mins). Shake them occasionally.
4) Turn up the heat. Add the cider, mussels and clams. Stir them up. Cover them and cook them until the shellfish open. (3-5 mins).
5) Take them out of the pot. Discard any that don’t open by themselves. Keep the rest warm.
6) Combine the cream and mustard and mix it into the sauce.
7) Return the shellfish to the pot and stir it.
8) Serve it in bowls scattered with the remaining parsley.

Cider and seafood tips

How to store fresh shellfish

You could use frozen but the ideal is to buy your shellfish fresh. It’s better to eat them the day you buy them. However, you can store fresh shellfish for 24 hours in the salad tray of your fridge. Cover them with a wet tea cloth or seaweed and keep them at 2oC. Use seawater or fresh water with a tablespoon of salt added for every litre; fresh water will kill them.

Soak the clams in cold water also with a tablespoon of salt in each litre, to rid them of sand and grit. De-beard the mussels by pulling out any threads emerging from between the shells and scrape off any barnacles. When you’re ready to cook them, wash the mussels and the clams in cold water.

Open or closed? — the golden rule 

The firm rule is to discard mussels or clams that are open when you’re preparing them and remove any that are still closed when they’re cooked.

Find out more about cider and seafood

The Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide is designed to help you make the right sustainable seafood choices.

Cider.Space and Exeter Cookery School have teamed up to run a full-day Cooking with Cider course on Sunday 21 January, 2018. Vouchers are available from the school but numbers are limited. Visit Exeter Cookery School‘s website. (This link will take you out of Cider.Space. User your back button to return).

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