“I am a little bit biased, but I do believe that the best mussels in the world are harvested in Ireland. We are an island surrounded by strong tides and clean waters that enable mussels to grow and become beautiful, sweet cushions in rugged shells… This is one of my favorite ways to cook them, as I love the way the spiciness of the chorizo contrasts with the sweet mussels. You can substitute pancetta for the chorizo, if you like.” — Clodagh McKenna, Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen — A Fresh Take on Traditional Flavors
Start by preparing the mussels: The shells should be tightly shut, but if not, they should promptly close if you tap them with your finger. If they do not close, they are not alive and should be discarded. Wild mussels will have a “beard,” which is a clump of fibers they use to navigate and attach themselves to rocks on the seabed. Before cooking, this beard will have to be removed. To do this, give the beard a sharp tug and pull it toward the hinge of the mussel before discarding. Next, clean the mussels in cold water to remove any sand and, using a knife, carefully scrape off any barnacles.
Now place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the oil, followed by the crushed garlic, chorizo, and shallots. Cover and let sweat for 2 minutes.
Turn the heat up to high and stir in the half and half and white wine, followed by the mussels. Stir well, cover, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. By then the shells should have opened, which means they are cooked. Discard any mussels whose shells have not opened.
Finish by sprinkling the parsley over the mussels and stirring once more to bring all the flavors together. Divide the mussels between 2 bowls and pour the remaining sauce over them before serving.