Belgian Date Night: Moules Frites (Mussels with French Fries)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

This is a super fast dinner. In fact, I made this in literally 10 minutes as the Hubby request it for his Belgian beer. At 10 pm. On a Friday. I took a considerable shortcut by using a bag of frozen french fries, which turn out just fine. If you're a purist you can fry your own from scratch, or skip it all together and go for a freshly baked loaf of crusty bread. Just fine by me.

Moules Frites (Mussels with French Fries)
1.5 lb mediterranean mussels
1/4 cup (approx) all purpose flour
1 large (2 smaller) shallot, peeled and chopped finely
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Take the mussels and pour them into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water and the flour. This flour mixture will force the live mussels to close, letting you know clearly which are alive and which are dead (the ones that remain open). Let mussels stand in this flour water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (or 5 minutes). When ready, drain the mussels and run them under cold water to rinse off the flour mixture. Rip the "beard" -- the hairy clump that the mussel uses to latch onto stuff to grow in the ocean. Don't remove this until just ready to use because this is the mussels life line -- when it's removed it signals to the mussel it's going to die.

Take a heavy cast iron pot and melt the butter. Add the shallots and garlic and cook about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, the white wine all at once and the thyme. Mix to combine. Add the mussels and coat them with the butter mixture. Cover tighly with lid and let simmer on medium-low heat about 5 minutes, or until all the shells have opened. The mussels as they open will release their own juices which will incredibly flavor the entire pot, creating an irresistable sauce.

While the mussels cook make the french fries according to package directions.

To serve, spoon out some mussels into individual bowls, then pour the sauce straight over them in each bowl. Serve with the hot fries, some mayo to dip the fries if desired, or the crusty bread and a cold Belgian beer. Conversely, it's romantic to share the mussles right out of the pot they cooked in.

*If you wanted to avoid the alcohol altogether, sub out with chicken or fish stock.

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