It is once in a lifetime that one is presented with an opportunity to try an ingredient so unusual, so unique that to pass it by would be incredibly foolish. I simply had to purchase these delights before they sold out.
So what's inside the jar?
Alright! But do they taste as good as they look?
They certainly have an acquired taste and I had to try at least 3 after spitting out the first and almost retching . To be fair, they are just edible; very similar texture to tinned tuna but with that added bite of sand; sickly and sour from the vinegar and sugar; an odd 'seaside' taste which is reminiscent of dead seaweed.
So on what culinary journey am I going to take them?
Obviously, they are screaming Classic French: seared chicken breast with roasted parsnip mash and a white wine, shallot, parsley and Parson's Pickled Mussel sauce.
First I'm going to pan roast in butter some parsnips with some sage and rosemary:
After about 45 minutes they have turned into this:
They smell fantastic. So in a frying pan I'm going to seal off an on-the-bone chicken breast:
After about 5 minutes frying, I transfer it to a medium oven for ten minutes to finish cooking. Next, I add shallots to the frying pan the chicken was cooked in and after they have softened and just started to colour I de-glaze with white wine. I then add some cream, parsley and five Parson's Pickled Mussels and season for flavour and balance.
I add the chicken to the parsnip mash, add the Parson's Pickled Mussel sauce and here's the result!
So how's it taste?
I think the chicken is slightly overdone which annoys me; I should have left it in the oven for about 7 minutes instead of ten; the parsnip mash is also a bit dry and could have used a bit more of the herb infused butter it was cooked with and maybe should have been roasted over a lower heat; the sauce would have been nice but every time you catch a mussel it becomes rather unpalatable and you really pick up on that sickly, sour, dried seaweed, weird fishy taste they have.
So overall, a bit of a disaster but one that I think would work with less technical errors and maybe very fresh mussels.
Pan seared chicken with roasted parsnip and a cream, white wine, parsley and mussel sauce; serves 1
5 Parson's Pickled Mussels
1 large parsnip
large sprig of rosemary, 5 sage leaves
tablespoon single cream, dash white wine
Method (some changes have been made because I made a few technical errors)
To a saucepan add a good knob of butter, the sage, rosemary and whole parsnip and roast over a very low heat for about an hour. Remove and mash with some of the herb infused butter and a dash of cream. Leave over a low heat while you cook the chicken breast. To do this, sear it skin side down in a frying pan for around 5 minutes or until the skin is crispy and transfer to a medium oven for around 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest as you make the sauce. To do this, add the finely chopped shallots to the frying pan you used to cook the chicken and fry until they just begin to turn colour then de-glaze with a cup of white wine. Add cream and then strain the sauce through a sieve and reduce over a low heat or until the volume has reduced by about a third (you can reduce more or less to suit yourself though). Add the mussels and parsley and season with salt, pepper and sugar until the balance is to your liking. Finally, carve the chicken and place on top of the parsnip mash and pour round the sauce. Job done.