Mussels with thyme and bacon

Serves 4
2 tbsp lemon thyme leavesplus sprigs to garnish
1 kg fresh mussels
2 small leeks
1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil
125g smoked bacon lardons
25g butter
grated zest 1 lemon
250ml dry cider
pepper to season

Scrub the mussels and pull away the beards. Discard any mussels that have broken shells or do not close when tapped.
Trim the leeks and thinly slice, wash well and shake away as much water as possible.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the bacon lardons. Cook until they begin to crisp and brown. Add the butter to the pan. When it has melted, stir in the leeks and lemon thyme. Cook for 5 mins, stirring frequently until the leeks have softened. Turn the heat up high, add the mussels, lemon zest and cider. Cover and cook for 4-5 mins, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels have opened.
Remove the mussels, bacon and leeks with a draining spoon and place in a warm serving bowl. Discard any that have not opened.
Boil the juices left in the pan for 2 mins until reduced slightly. Pour over the mussels in the bowl.
Season with black pepper, garnish with thyme sprigs and serve immediately.

Other thyme recipes from our Jul/Aug 2014 issue:

• Cod with thyme and tomato
• Creamy garlic and thyme mushrooms
• Roast tomatoes with thyme and honey
• Lemon and thyme chicken salad