- 6 ounces smoked slab bacon, cut in ½-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 small shallots, sliced into thin rings
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 McIntosh apple, peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 pounds (about 35–40) mussels, scrubbed, beards removed
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 whole sprigs thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1 bay leaf
- 1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) Calvados (apple brandy)
- ½ cup apple cider
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1–2 French baguettes or your favorite crusty bread
Add bacon to a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stockpot set over medium heat and let cook 5 to 6 minutes. Once the fat is rendered and bacon is turning golden, drain the excess fat; add butter, shallots, garlic and apple. Season with salt and pepper and continue to stir an additional 4 to 5 minutes.
To the same pot, add cleaned mussels and fresh herbs. Season again with salt and pepper. Cook mussels for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add brandy, cider and cream to pot, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot; bring contents to a light boil. Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer until all the mussels have opened. Check seasoning again before serving.
Ladle into bowls, top with broth and garnish with thyme. Alternatively, gather around the big pot and everyone shares! Serve with lots of warm crusty bread.