The bad weather in the western cape continues, Rory and Penny came out to stay with us for the weekend and I did a mussel starter for lunch and as we could not braai I prepared a mutton potjie - I had wanted to do an oxtail pot but I couldn't get any fresh oxtails, some of the butcheries had frozen ones but that was obviously no good as I had time constraints and one told me that they were quite scarce, with all of the animal cloning going on you'd think that it would be quite easy to organise an ox with several tails, then while they were alive in the fields they would be super efficient at keeping flies off and we would all benefit as well.
The mussel starter is quite easy, I pre cook fresh mussels in a little white wine and then save the resultant liquid, then when I pull the mussels out of the shells I save them in a plastic tub and then pour the liquid over them and freeze them like that. The liquid is then a lovely mixture of wine and sea water, if you are not able to get fresh mussels - and this must apply to 95 per cent of the population then you would have to make your starter from frozen mussel meats, this is also quite easy but you will have to make up the sauce a bit differently.
Anyway, allow your mussels to defrost - finely chop one small onion and fry it in a good blob of butter and about two tablespoons of olive oil, when the onions are nicely translucent add all of the liquid from the mussels and allow to boil and reduce slightly, while it is boiling add a good sprinkle of mixed herbs and then pour in about 100mls (half a small cup) of Pernod, or if you don't have any Pernod (go and buy some) add some brandy, allow to boil for a bit longer and then add the mussels.
Let the mussels heat through and then add some cream, if I'm making this starter for four or six people then I use about 125ml of cream, let it all heat through and serve over pasta rice. This is absolutely delicious - Rory and Penny raved over it and I have used similar variations of this sauce with prawns and calamari with equally satisfying results.
If you have to make up your sauce for frozen mussel meats, make it with a little white wine added after you have fried the onion, still adding the pernod and the cream. Taste it while you are making it, the mixed herbs are also important.
My mutton pot also turned out pretty damn good even if I do say so myself, I added a lovely fresh tabasco chilli from my own chilli bush in the back garden. It is very easy to do potjies though so I won't go into the recipe now, the only important ingredient is care because that can make the difference between a bloody good pot or one that is just ok.
We had a good weekend, my friend and I managed to relax and talk a lot of crap which I think he needed - I am always available to my friends if they want to relax and talk crap, I'm good at that!