Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moules Frites

I'd actually never heard of this combination until this past year (again, thank you to Throwdown with Bobby Flay.) And, mussels were one type of shellfish that I really hadn't eaten very often - when given a choice, I'd choose clams. When Jim was traveling last month, Spencer's top request during our seafood extravaganza week was clams - my version of a linguini vongole. But, they had no clams at the grocery store on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or any day that week! So, that Friday even we subsitituted and made mussels perpared in a similar style. Now time for the truth: while I fully planned to serve Moules Frites when Jim was between Brussels and Geneva, Spencer kindly asked if we could have the clams that he missed out on last month. So I obliged. But, in the spirit of the continuing Euro tour, below in the info on our mussels.

As for the frites, or fries, I don't own a deep fryer and nor do I want to own one. I do know the secret to really awesome fries is frying them twice - once at a lower heat to cook the potatoes through, and a second time at a higher temp to crisp up the outside. For me, oven roasting in the way to go for making fries at home.

Back to the mussels, the real star of the show! I think they tend to release easier from the shell than clams do, making this even more kid-friendly. A term I use for how little interaction is required on the part of an adult during mealtime. During cooking, the mussels give off their juices which combines with the wine and makes a heavenly liquid that pools in the bottom of your bowl. Wise Spencer knows this is the most amazing part of the dish. Be sure to serve with a crusty European bread to soak it up - usually I buy ciabatta, but this week I discovered a freshly-baked French batard just asking to be taken home and served with this meal.

Side note: I am continually amazed & impressed at what can be found at our local grocery store.
Side note #2: If you are anti-cooking with alcohol for your children, substitute either some seafood stock (from the soup aisle) or bottled clam juice (near canned tuna.) And when I get around to posting penne a la vodka, with a full cup of vodka, we'll talk about other substitutions.

Moules Frites
no specific source

1 lb fresh mussels, scrubbed & cleaned
2 large shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2/3 C white wine
2T olive oil
2T parsley

Heat oil over medium heat and sweat shallots and garlic. Add wine and reduce for a few minutes. Then, crank up heat, add all mussels at once (try to get them in an even layer) and cover the pan. After 7-8 minutes, all mussels should be opened. If not, wait another minute or two, and any that still have not opened should be discarded. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with french fried potatoes (frites) or crusty European-style bread.

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