the appetizer:

Mussels in Garlic and Guinness is a typical meal found in Irish pubs. Find more recipes like this in The Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret Johnson.



Mussels in Garlic and Guinness


Serves 4

The Brazen Head, on Lower Bridge Street, in Dublin, has been trading for 800 years. It is reputed to be not only the oldest pub in Dublin, but also one of the oldest pubs in all of Ireland. It stands on the site of a twelfth-century tavern near the River Liffey, and started serving the public before Ireland's first licensing laws were passed in 1635. Like many inns of that era, it had a courtyard for catering to visiting coaches and rooms for overnight accommodation, and like many humble Irish establishments, good food and wine.

Merchants, smugglers, rebels, and patriots were counted as patrons of the Brazen Head, including leading figures in Ireland's independence movement, such as Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone, and Daniel O'Connell. No longer a hotel, the Brazen Head remains one of Dublin's most distinctive public houses and has an enviable reputation for providing good food and drink, traditional Irish music, and lively conversation. These mussels, steamed in garlic and Guinness, are one of the pub's most popular starters.

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed, debearded, and rinsed in cold water
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup Guinness
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  • French bread for serving

1. Put a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add the mussels and remaining ingredients and cover immediately. (The mussels will make a sizzling sound.) Cook, stirring once or twice, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mussels open. Discard any that do not open.

2. To serve, divide the mussels among shallow bowls and ladle the broth over them. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a wedge of lemon and slices of bread to sop up the juice.

  • from:
  • The Irish Pub Cookbook
  • by
  • Photographs by Leigh Beisch
  • Chronicle Books
  • 100 color photographs
  • Paperback; $24.95
  • ISBN 0811844854
  • Recipe reprinted with permission.

Buy the Book


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This page created March 2007

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