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Moules et Frites (Mussels and Fries)

December 10, 2008

The piece de resistance of the par-tay- the mussels and fries.  These were pretty easy to make, as far as a main dish goes and come together quickly.  Most of the work is in the preparation- sorting through the mussels and getting those ready to go, and getting the potatoes peeled, cut and through their first fry.  The key to making great fries at home (well, besides borrowing Haley’s deep fryer) is to fry them twice.  You cook the fries most of the way, then take them out right before they begin to turn golden on the edges.  You let them sit while doing the first fry on the rest of the batch, then put them back in the fryer for 1-2 minutes until they turn golden and crispy.  The beauty of it is that you have a lot of fresh batches of fries come out very quickly for a hungry crowd.

Moules

I made 1 pound of mussels per person.  If your mussels are large you might want to get more than that, but if they’re small, this amount should be fine.  This will serve 4-5.

Ingredients:

5 lbs mussels

1 c white wine

1/4 c minced shallots (optional)

8 parsley springs

2 thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves, broken in half

3 T unsalted butter

1/4 c chopped parsley

Directions: Sort through mussels and discard any that stay open (if they are open, squeeze them shut a few times.  If they close again, keep them.  If they remain open, discard them).  Scrub all the mussels you keep and pull out any beards (a fuzzy black thing that may be sticking outside of the shell.  If it’s hard to remove, let it sit for a minute and try again ).  Rinse mussels in several changes of water and place in a large bowl in the fridge until ready to use (but use them the same day you buy them).

In a large stock pot with a lid (8-10 quarts), add wine, shallots, parsley and thyme springs and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the mussels and cover with lid.  Cook for 5 minutes, and about every minute shake the pot with your thumbs holding down the lid- you’re trying to move the mussels from the bottom to top to make sure they cook evenly.  After about 5 minutes, open the pot and see if the mussels have all opened wide.  If not, remove opened mussels and put in a large bowl, and continue cooking and shaking until all mussels have opened.  Remove all the mussels to the large bowl.  Add butter to the pot and stir to melt, and boil for about 2-3 minutes so the liquid reduces.  Ladle the broth over the reserved mussels and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Frites

This recipe serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3-4 c vegetable oil, for frying

3 pounds Idaho, russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, rinsed and dried

Salt, to taste

Directions: Pour oil in a large Dutch oven so it’s halfway up the sides of the pan.  Heat oil to 325 degrees.

Cut potatoes into sticks about 1/2″ wide and 2 1/3″ long.  Dry them thoroughly.  Fry potatoes in batches of about 1 cup at a time at 325 degrees for 4-5 minutes, until they are just beginning to get golden on the edges.  Remove from oil and let drain on paper towels.  Repeat with remaining batches, making sure the oil returns to 325 degrees between batches.  The fries can sit for several hours at room temperature until you are ready for the second fry.

Heat oil to 325 degrees again for the second fry.  Fry the potatoes in 1 cup batches again, for about 1-2 minutes or until they are nicely golden and crisp.  Drain on new paper towels, sprinkle with salt and serve.  Do not cover the potatoes or they will get soggy.

I made a couple of dips for the fries as well:

Mustard Mayo: Dissolve 2 t mustard powder in 2 t water.  Stir in 1/2 c mayonnaise and serve

Chipotle Ketchup: Stir together 1 c ketchup, 1/2 t chipotle powder and 1/2 t Sriracha and serve

Parmesan Parsley Sprinkle: Combine equal parts grated Parmesan and chopped parley and sprinkle over salted fries

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