Irish Mussels with Irish Blue Cheese and Irish Parsnips

Recently we took a plane to Dublin for a return visit to Conor and ‘the wife’ (a.k.a. Sharon). They showed us a really great time.

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We stayed in a wonderful house with a huge kitchen by Lough Derg (a beautiful lake in the county of Tipperary).

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They took us out to dinner at a wonderfully quaint (or quaintly wonderful) Irish restaurant called Brocka-on-the-Water.

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And they took us to the Milk Market in Limerick to go food shopping. Conor suggested that I was to take care of the starter, while he would prepare the main course and Sharon would make something for dessert. I decided to improvise based on what I saw at the market, and to limit myself to Irish ingredients only. There was a lady from nearby Clare County who sold wonderful cheeses that she had all made herself on her farm, and one of them was a raw sheep’s milk blue cheese that was particularly fine. As Conor and the Wife had confessed that they had never tried mussels with blue cheese before, I thought it would be nice to pair the Irish cheese with Irish mussels. In Ireland the sea is always close by and the quality of the mussels was outstanding.

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The market was also full of very fresh parsnips from local farms, and I thought that crispy parsnips would be a nice addition to the blue cheese and mussels. The sweetness of the Irish parsnips would be a good combination with the sweetness of the mussels. I also picked up some Irish onions, Irish butter, and Irish crème fraîche.
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Back at the house the kitchen was big enough for all three of us to work together. This is Conor stirring the delicious mushroom and red wine risotto that he served with Irish flank steak, while the Wife was working on a delicious almond meringue cake with fresh raspberries and raspberry coulis.

You will notice that the photos in this post are better than what you are used to on my blog, and that is because Conor took most of them. He took lots of pouring shots, so Richard and the Baby Lady were there in spirit too. Apart from having a wonderful time I also learned a lot about food photography and photo editing. Thank you Conor.

And now without further ado, my not so Irish combination of very Irish ingredients.

Ingredients

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For 4 servings

1 kilo (2.2 lbs) Irish mussels, scrubbed and rinsed

1 kilo (2.2 lbs) Irish parsnips

125 grams (4.5 oz) Irish raw sheep’s milk blue cheese, crumbled

1 Irish onion

1 Tbsp minced Irish flat leaf parsley

125 ml (1 cup) Irish crème fraîche

2 Tbsp Irish butter

2 Tbsp Irish rapeseed oil

Preparation

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Chop the onion.

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Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onions. Allow them to sweat over low heat for about half an hour or until they are soft and golden, but not browned.

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Peel the parsnips…

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…and slice them into quarters lengthwise.

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Parboil them in salted water for about 8 minutes or until they are starting to get tender.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/390ºF (fan forced).

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Toss the parsnips with rapeseed oil.

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Roast them at 200ºC/390ºF (fan forced) until they are nicely browned and crispy, about 30 minutes. Turn them after about 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, cook the mussels in a closed pot with a bit of water (or cheat and use a bit of white wine, which is definitely not Irish) until they open.

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Drain the mussels, catching the cooking liquid.

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A beautiful gratuitous mussel shot. How nice is it to have a top notch photographer around.

Allow the mussels to cool somewhat.

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Take most of the mussels out of their shells, reserving 12 mussels in their shells for garnish.

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Add the cream fresh to the onions.

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Add the blue cheese as well. Stir over low heat until the cheese has melted.

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Filter the mussel liquid with a paper towel or cheese cloth, and reduce it over medium heat. Add a bit of the concentrated mussel liquid to the sauce. Taste to find out how much you like, taking into account that the mussel liquid will also make the sauce thinner. I ended up using a few tablespoons.

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Add the mussels to the sauce.

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Add the parsley as well.

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Allow the mussels to warm through over low heat. Do not cook them longer than necessary, because they will lose flavor and become tough if you do.

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Serve the mussels with the sauce and the crispy parsnips on warm plates.

Wine pairing

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We enjoyed this with an unoaked full-bodied and fruity viognier from the south of France with a nice minerality. It was a great match for the dish. A chardonnay in a similar style would also work.

Thanks again Conor and Sharon for a marvellous weekend. We hope you’ll come visit us again soon 🙂

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51 thoughts on “Irish Mussels with Irish Blue Cheese and Irish Parsnips

  1. this looks incredibly good to say the least. I still haven’t tried the combination of mussels and blue cheese but if it tastes as good as it looks, i want it. i love the photos too. You guys sure had a great time together.

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  2. Excellent combination! I just bought a book called for Food Photography for Dummies. I’ve decided my photo issues are light-related. I have hardly any natural light in my kitchen so everything looks to dark or too light depending on the camera flash etc.

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    1. The biggest lesson I learned about light this year is summed up as follows:
      Natural light is best. If you can’t get natural, use a single light source and reflectors (tin-foil wrapped around a place-mat works really well). My problems arise when I want to turn all the lights off in the kitchen except my studio light and photo the dinner that they have all sat down to eat.

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  3. I just want to confirm that this was fantastic. We loved it. The whole process was great fun to watch and, despite my thinking that perhaps they would not work well together, was a gastronomic hit.
    Best,
    Conor

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  4. really good combo! Never try it! And the recipe is so well explained, so many images!
    Stephan, on my blog i posted today the recipe of “pisarei” do you remember? pasta con borlotti, from my town. Hoping you’ll try them! Cris

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  5. Looks like a great meal, and a good time in the kitchen too, it’s wonderful to cook with friends, you always learn something. I have found a table tripod to be invaluable for photographing with flash in low light situations.

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  6. What a fascinating recipe! Mussels and blue cheese, yes ~ altho’ have not made myself, but to add the parsnips was quite inspired. Well, a wee too far to the Irish markets for me, but most of our Australian produce is pretty praiseworthy also – so shall play copycat 🙂 !

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  7. What a wonderful feast! I’m sure you and your friends enjoyed it immensely.
    Your dish looks great (lovely presentation!) and I’m sure “fish eaters” would love it … oh but you don’t know it yet! I don’t eat any kind of fish. I really don’t like the taste. Ouch! I know I’m a food blogger but I’m who I’m and my readers so graciously accepted it.
    Don’t worry though. I sometimes cook fish for the sake of Stefano and her majesty (our daughter) and I will comment on the presentation, combination and colors of your fish dishes. 😉

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  8. What a great dish and a good-looking presentation in the plate!
    Also, I think that your recommendation to pair it with Viognier is spot on for this dish! I would sure have a bite and a sip with you guys! 🙂

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  9. I bet the 4 of you had a great time! I would think Conor would be at his best while playing host and tour guide. I wish I’d known him when I was in Ireland. I’ve yet to try your mussels with bleu cheese, Stefan, but it’s on my must make list. Pairing them with parsnips was a great idea and your plating of the dish was really beautiful.

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  10. Dear Stefan … I grew up with Irish nuns (albeit in the UK) and we never even had a sniff of mussels .. let alone blue cheese. What fun! I love the way you mix “fun” with kitchen technique in everything you do …!

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  11. Wow… this looks absolutely divine Stefan! I don’t normally like bivalves but that incredible sauce makes me want to change my mind. Delicious! I’ve loved reading your and Conor’s combined posts, sounds like you and Kees had a great trip!

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