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See the note on preparing clams and mussels.
Cut the bacon into pieces about 1" square, peel and mince the garlic, trim the sprouts and cut them in quarters.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the sprout quarters for no more than 3 minutes.
Warm a large pan over a high heat, add the still wet mussels and cover tightly with a lid. Let the mussels cook in their own steam for 3–4 minutes or until their shells have opened. Remove them to a bowl as they open, then, when cool enough, pull the mussels from their shells. Strain and reserve the cooking liquor.
Warm the olive oil in a heavy frying pan, then add the bacon and cook for 3–4 minutes over a moderate heat, until the fat is just starting to colour.
Add the garlic to the pan, stir in the sliced sprouts, and give the pan a few generous turns of the pepper grinder. Let it all fry in the oil and bacon fat for 5–6 minutes until bright and tender. Then add the shelled mussels and some of the strained juices from the pan.
Leave to bubble briefly then serve immediately. Serves 2.