Mussels are one of those foods that has a really excellent effort to impressiveness ratio. They take less time and care to prepare than, say, a decent bowl of pasta, but they imply a luxuriousness on par with a well-executed roast or something. Even better, they cost not much more than a decent bowl of pasta to make.
I'd picked up a few mussels from a store a few weeks ago, only to arrive home to find I was out of white wine, which is what I'd need to make the canonical Moules Marinare recipe. I poked around the kitchen and picked up the next best thing -- a bottle of Narrangansett beer. Since the beer wasn't going to contribute quite as much flavor to the recipe as wine would, I figured I should amp up the rest of the ingredients to keep the whole thing punchy. Enter ginger and bacon. Let's roll!
* 1.5 to 2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
* 4 strips of bacon
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 3-5 tablespoons ginger, minced
* 1 tomato, coarsely cubed
* 2 bottles Narragansett beer (you could also fancy it up with a Belgian ale or a lighter brown ale, if you like) - that's one for the mussels, one for you!
First, put the bacon in the bottom of a stock pot on very low heat. You want to extract the maximum fat possible from the bacon without burning it, as it'll provide the goodness foundation for the rest of the recipe. Allow it to cook for a few minutes until browned on the bottom, then flip it. Let it cook until it's browned on both sides, then remove the bacon from the pot and reserve.
Add the ginger and onion to the stock pot with the bacon grease, and cook it over low heat for about 5-7 minutes, enough time for them to get soft. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomato and beer to the pot and raise the heat to high, allowing it to come to a boil. Once boiling, dump the mussels on top, cover the pot, and allow to steam for 5-6 minutes. Dump the mussels and liquid into another pot or container, then back into the pot to coat them with the gingery goodness. Just before serving, dice the bacon you'd reserved earlier and sprinkle on top.
After chowing down on the mussels, use some crusty bread to sop up the ginger/beer/bacon liquid, which will exhibit nearly illegal levels of goodness. Cheers!