Mussels with Wheat beer, Bratwurst and Sorrel

by leah

I assembled this dish mostly in honour of the marathon beer-drinking season known as Oktoberfest. But also because sorrel is my current herb obsession, and I know that sorrel and mussels is an outstanding combination. Sorrel is lemony while maintaining a smoothness of flavour, it’s a really interesting and under-utilised herb. Adding to this, we have also had a surprising spate of late summer weather here, and wheat beer seemed an obvious choice for such comfortable weather. Oh San Francisco, when you serve it up, you serve it up good.

I added some pumpernickel toasts to add to the German flair. Bread on the side is pretty de-rigeur; this broth begs to be sopped up by something with a bit of heft.

Serves 2 as a light main course

  • 1 Pound (about 1/2 kilogram) Mussels
  • 1 Bratwurst
  • 2 Shallots
  • 1 Bunch sorrel (hard to find but worth it – do find out if it grows wild near you and if so, pick some)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/2 Cup chicken or fish stock
  • 1 Bottle wheat beer ( I used Blue Moon as that’s what was on hand)
  • 1/4 Stick butter
  • Some rib-sticking bread – something in the Rye family is best.

Wash your mussels and drain in a colander. De-beard if necessary, I use coarse steel wool for this.

Chop the shallot, bratwurst and sorrel into chunky pieces, preferably smaller than the mussels themselves.

In a deep pot (I used my ever-present 4qt saucier), gently sweat the chopped shallot and bratwurst until they just start to colour. Deglaze with the stock and 1/2 the bottle of beer.

Tumble in the mussels and half the sorrel, and squeeze in half a lemon and a pinch of salt. Lid the pot tightly and let it all cook for about 5-6 minutes. I like a firmish cooked mussel; not a trendy, flabby, raw-centred mussel so keep that baby steaming for a good while.

In the meantime, make your toast and arrange your plate. De-lid the pot, remove from heat and discard any unopened mussels. Tumble it in a big pile, and ladle the broth over the top so the open mussels catch bits of the flavourings.

Serve with a lemon wedge and the rest of the sliced sorrel draped over the top. Sorrel loses it’s colour quite rapidly so make sure it’s the last thing you add to the dish before serving.