Toulon is famous for its large mussels which, at times, are available further inland. I have also tried the recipe with our northern, small sweet mussels and it is still good, if not so spectacular.
Scrub and beard the mussels, and discard any that remain open while you do this. Pour the water or wine into a large pan, add the shallot and the mussels and bring to the boil. Cover and remove from the heat. Leave to stand for 5–8 minutes.
Extract the mussels from the opened shells. Cut the lard fumé into small neat pieces or, if using rashers of bacon, cut into strips and make small rolls. Thread the mussels, evenly spaced, with pieces of bacon, on to skewers. Dribble or brush with olive oil, sprinkle with the fennel seed and then coat lightly with dry breadcrumbs.
Place under a very hot grill and cook, turning once, for 5–6 minutes. Serve straight away with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over.
© 1987 Geraldene Holt. All rights reserved.