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Quebecois mussel chowder, it’s what’s for dinner

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QUEBECOIS MUSSEL CHOWDER WITH COD AND CIDER

2¼ pounds mussels

2½ cups hard cider

2 tablespoons butter

2 leeks, cleaned and cut into fine rings

14 ounces potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks

½ cup heavy cream

14 ounces cod fillets (skin removed), cut into 1¼-inch chunks

Pepper

Squeeze of lemon

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Clean the mussels really well, scrubbing the outsides and removing the beards, and discard any that are damaged, open or do not close when tapped on the side of the sink. Put them into a large saucepan and add the cider. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the mussels have opened. Discard any that remain closed.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and add the leeks and the potatoes. Cover and sweat the vegetables in the butter, plus a splash of water, over low heat for about 15 minutes, until they start to soften. Add a little more water every so often to ensure that the vegetables do not burn.

When the mussels are cool enough to handle, remove them from the cider and take the meat out of most of them, keeping some in the shell; they look nice in the final dish. Add the cider and mussel juices to the leek and potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Gently mash some of the potatoes to slightly thicken the juices. Add the cream and cod and, over low heat, poach the cod for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mussels to the soup and heat through. Season with pepper and a good squeeze of lemon (you shouldn’t need any salt, as mussel liquor is usually pretty salty). Scatter the parsley over the soup and serve.

Serves 4 as a main course.

Recipe from “Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: Food to Warm the Soul,” by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley; $29.99)

— Heidi Knapp Rinella

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