Smoky Tomato Mussels with Bacon, Fennel and Pepperoni

These mussels turned out really well; John was particularly a fan. They were sort of inspired by a restaurant dish I like, though definitely deviate considerably from that recipe. Looking forward to having the leftovers over linguine for lunch.

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Two pounds large mussels

1-2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic chopped

half a bulb of fennel, chopped

3-4 slices bacon, cut into lardons

1/4 cup or so chopped pepperoni

splash or two of dry vermouth

1 14 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes

chopped basil, to garnish

smoked paprika

Heat a Dutch oven for a minute or two. Add bacon and start to render fat; about 4-5 minutes. Add fennel and sautee about 3-4 minutes. Add shallot, pepperoni and garlic and sautee another 5-7 minutes or so. For last minute, add a few shakes of paprika to the vegetable mixture.

Pour a splash or two of vermouth onto mixture and cook for a minute. Add mussels. Pour tomato sauce over mussels. Cover and cook about 7-8 minutes, until mussels are cooked through and open, stirring several times throughout. Garnish with fresh basil.

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