And while beer may be the beverage of choice in Belgium, the national dish of Belgium is mussels. So what better pairing for a Belgian-style ale than mussels steamed in beer?
(Makes 2 main courses, or 4 appetizer portions)
3 strips of bacon, chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups of beer
(I used 1 cup Southampton Double White and 1 cup amber lager, but feel free to experiment with different Belgian-style ales)
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed with beards removed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
Cook bacon in heavy pot over medium-high heat until browned, then add butter. Heat the butter until foam subsides. Then add onion, fennel, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot, stirring occasionally until vegetables get soft, about 5 minutes.
Add beer and bring to a gentle boil. Add mussels to the pot, and cover, stirring occasionally. Once mussels open wide, in about 5 minutes, remove open mussels from pot and transfer to a bowl. Discard any unopened mussels. Remove pot of remaining broth from heat, and add mustard and sour cream, whisking until combined. Divide mussels between 2-4 bowls, and then pour the broth over the top.
Perfect with a glass of Double White, or whatever Belgian-style beer you used for the broth. This makes a hearty, warming, but not too heavy meal on a cold winter’s day, but is equally enjoyable any time of year.
“The Good Lord has changed water into wine, so how can drinking beer be a sin.”
– Sign near a Belgian Monastery