At the fishmongers yesterday he had great weaved sacks full of gleaming rope grown mussels on display. Having need of quick and easy food for friends coming round that night I bought a load. I know people who are scared of cooking shellfish at home, fearful that they are going to poison themselves or their loved ones and would rather only eat it when out at a restaurant but they are really missing a trick because it is so damn easy. Mussels can take a bit of prep. If they are wild then your going to be scraping the shells and pulling out beards for a while. As these where rope grown I only had beards to content with and the odd bit of scraping. I actually really enjoy this kind of prep. The methodical care you have to take, the inspection and acceptance or rejection of each mussel, the smell of deep salty ocean that tinges the kitchen. When you look at the clean irridescent shells waiting for the pot it is a deeply satisfying moment.
Throw some chopped shallots into olive oil and butter in a large pot, after about two minutes empty in a bottle of wheat beer, I used Hoegaarden Grand Cru (Make sure you've got a couple of bottles handy, one for the mussels, one for general assessment purposes whilst your cleaning them), once that starts to simmer throw in the mussels and a handful of dill. Slam the lid closed and leave for ten minutes or until all the mussels have opened up. Serve with the sauce and hunks of good bread to soak it up. This is good social eating, a bunch of mates round a table throwing empty shells into a communal bowl making a bit of a mess.