Sunday, 13 June 2010

Molly’s Cockles and Mussels Pot

Cockles, Mussels, Sage, Thyme and a blend of Onions, Garlic, Celery, Peppers and Carrots combine to intensify elements of flavours to an unpretentious sauce of tomatoes and wine.
When we were younger and before we were married we found that we both loved shellfish especially mussels, and somehow “Molly” became Maureen’s pet name, it was I suppose from the Irish song “Molly Malone” (see below), anyhow this dish was born out of that love of shellfish and along with the cockles and mussels we do every now and then add a few medium size prawns (raw) they cook pleasingly in the steam from the cockles and mussels.

Serves / Makes: 6 servings
Prep-Time: 1 hour or so
Cook-Time: 20 minutes
You Will Need;
  • 750 grams, live cockles, you could use clams
  • 750 grams, live mussels
  • 150mls, white wine
  • 1 tablespoon, vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • ½ red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped carrot
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons, fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 x 400 gram tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons, roughly chopped parsley
Wash the cockles and mussels in a few changes of cold water, scrubbing to remove any beards still attached to the shells, throw away any that are damaged, or opened; (those that do not close when tapped) place the remaining shellfish in a large bowl, cover with cold water and set aside to soak for an hour. Drain the shellfish thoroughly and place in a large saucepan or mussel pot, add the wine, cover and cook over a high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until all the shells have opened.
Strain off the cooking liquid and reserve, get rid of any shellfish that have not opened pick half the shellfish from the shells and leave half in their shells.
Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic, celery, red pepper, carrot, thyme and sage and cook over a gentle heat until softened add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, stirring often cook for 3 minutes, and then add the set aside cooking liquid from the shellfish, return to the boil lower the heat and simmer for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir the cockles and mussels into the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste stir in the parsley.
Serve and enjoy with fresh crusty bread or tasty vegetable rice.
We like to serve this dish in this style of Mussel pot;


Mussels are truly one of nature’s most delightful delicacies; they are extremely high in proteins, calcium and iron while being low in fat and calories. They are also excellent for your heart, containing the highest amount of omega3’s of any shellfish (this is the naturally occurring fatty acid that is believed to lower blood pressure).mussels with fries or Moules frites are a characteristic Belgian dish, you get a big bowl (just about always pot) of steamed mussels, broth, and a side of frites.

Don't be tricked by how upmarket they look, mussels are the definitive uncomplicated seafood. Clean them, sauté them, steam them and hey up you'll have a dish everyone will be wowed there are many ways to serve the mussels, but the most classic is Moules Mariniere the mussels are offered in a sauce of white wine, shallots, parsley, and butter.
You can in addition find mussels served with sauces made with beer, or cream, or vegetable stock. For the greatest authenticity, use a shell to crack open the mussels, not your fork.
Mussels are at their best in cold weather, so their season is usually from October to March. When you see them in a fishmonger’s, a sign of freshness is that most of them are tightly closed: if there are a lot of open mussels don’t bother. When buying mussels you need to allow at least 1 pint (570 ml) per person for a first course, and 1½ to 2 pints (about 1 litre) for a main course. That may seem a lot, but some will have to be discarded and, once they have been shelled, mussels are very small and light.
The ritual of cleaning and preparing them sounds more bother than it actually is. When you get them home, plonk the mussels straightaway into a sinkful of cold water. First of all throw out any that float to the top, then leave the cold tap running over them while you take a small knife and scrape off all the barnacles and pull off the little hairy beards. Discard any mussels that are broken, and any that are open and refuse to close tight when given a sharp tap with a knife. After you’ve cleaned each one, place it straight in another bowl of clean water.
When they’re all in, swirl them around in three or four more changes of cold water to get rid of any lingering bits of grit or sand. Leave the cleaned mussels in cold water until you’re ready to cook them. As an extra safety precaution, always check mussels again after cooking this time discarding any whose shells haven’t opened.

Cockles are extremely appreciated in many coastal regions, where they’re gathered at low tide from shoals and sandy bottoms. In the Magdalen Islands, they’re by tradition battered and deep-fried. Cockles are found in sandy or muddy areas shallowly buried to a depth of not more than about one inch. They may be most linked with Dublin, alive alive-o, but cockles are to be had all over the world. Their small, heart-shaped shells contain a petite, tantalizing morsel of flesh that can be eaten raw, steamed, or boiled. A member of the clam family, although cockles may seem like a lot of work for little return, they have a mouth-watering salty flavour that desires to be treated gently.

Buying Cockles, They are available throughout the year, but the best season is from September to March. Be sure the shells are tightly closed choose cockles with pale shells, as this indicates lighter flesh which is said to taste better.
Storing Cockles Place the cockles in a breathable container and cover with a damp cloth. Molluscs should be kept at a temperature between 0° and 4° C (32°-40° F). In their shells, they will keep for 1 or 2 days
Preparing Cockles, Discard any cockles with opened or broken shells. Place in a bowl, cover with cold salted water and allow them to release the sand and impurities they contain. Allow at least 2 hours of soaking half a day is better.
Cooking Cockles can be eaten raw or cooked. To cook, place them in a pan, cover and place over high heat with a small amount of water, shake them once or twice, and remove the cockles as soon as they begin to open.
In Dublin's fair city, where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!
Alive, alive-O! Alive, alive-O!
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!

She was a fish-monger, but sure 'twas no wonder
For so were her father and mother before
And they each wheeled their barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!
Alive, alive-O! Alive, alive-O!
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!

She died of a fever, and no one could save her
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone
But her ghost wheels her barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!
Alive, alive-O! Alive, alive-O!
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!