I brought back quite a bit of saffron from Morocco but have been reluctant to use it. This time of year, warming foods are best and saffron can pack some heat.
My chef friend William reminded me how to clean mussels of the sand they usually have inside their shells. In a large bowl, pour enough water to cover the mussels. Add cornstarch. Chill in the fridge for at lease 3 hours but up to 12 hours. The mussels will start cycling through the water and cornstarch, eliminating the sand.
2 leeks, demi-luned and washed of grit
salt and pepper to taste
4 links of merguez sausage, sliced
1 3/4 pound mussels, rinsed and de-bearded
1 pint 6 oz beer (I used Smuttynose IPA)
Use a large pot (Dutch oven, stock pot). Saute the leeks in butter and olive oil on medium-high heat until translucent. Add salt and pepper. The sausage is spicy so go light on the pepper. Add the sliced merguez. Mix with leeks to warm through about 5 minutes. Add the mussels. Add the beer. Cover the pot and bring to a low boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook 5-7 minutes. When the mussels begin to open, they are cooked through.
I served this with French fries from a nearby bistro and a crisp Vouvray.