1 kilo (about 24) large mussels
For the stuffing:
350 grams pure pork sausage meat or minced pork
125 grams cured ham, cut finely into very small pieces (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 an onion, finely chopped or processed in the food processor
1 clove garlic very finely chopped, or processed with the onion
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons thyme
1 egg, beaten
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 glass white wine
liquid from the mussels
Don’t add salt – the mussels and their liquid will be quite salty enough!
2 tablespoons aïoli (see here for the recipe, or add some crushed garlic to some good bought mayonnaise)
Clean the mussels, open them by sliding the blade of a shell fish knife between the two halves, starting mid-way along the flat side and around the rounded end until you cut the muscle and the two halves open. Have a bowl ready underneath to catch the liquid that will come out of the mussels.
Prepare the stuffing by combining the sausage meat, chopped ham, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, paprika and thyme, then adding the egg and mixing in well. Take a spoonful of the mixture to stuff each mussel, closing the two halves of the shell firmly together again. Since with this method you will have broken the muscle that causes the mussel to open during cooking, there is no need to tie thread around them as some recipes suggest.
Pack the mussels in a single layer if possible into the bottom of a heavy pan. Add the tomato purée, wine and some of the liquid from the mussels, enough to cover the mussels in the pan. If you don’t like, or can’t eat, much salt it’s better to replace some of the mussel liquid with water as it is quite salty.
Cover the mussels with a large plate to stop them moving around too much. Bring to the boil and simmer for 35-40 minutes. Remove the mussels from the sauce, turn the heat up and reduce it for five minutes or so. Add the aïoli and whisk into the sauce.
Serve the mussels with the sauce and rice, garnished with lemon slices, and with a glass of white wine.