one of my favorite meals to order at a restaurant is mussels & frites. frites (or french fries :) have always been in my list of top 5 favorite foods, and mussels are such a perfect complement to them. add the toasty bread to dip in the wine-tomato-herb sauce, and it doesn't get much better for me. this makes for a delicious (and easy) dinner to make at home, preferably enjoyed outside on a breezy summer night with the rest of the wine used in the sauce. oh, and with a puppy who loves french fries.
mussels & frites
for the mussels:
- 1 bag fresh, live mussels from the seafood counter (read further for prepping instructions)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 bottle (ish) dry white wine (i use this a lot, it's inexpensive and delicious)
- 1 regular can unsalted diced tomatoes
- 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 baguette, sliced, for dipping (optional, but recommended!)
for the frites:
- 1 large russet potato, cleaned, unpeeled, and cut into french fry-shaped sticks
- olive oil for drizzling
- salt and pepper to taste
to prepare the mussels:
make sure to buy the mussels as close to the time you will prepare them as possible. they need to be fresh, and they also need to be alive (a little weird, but true). to begin, make sure to immediately unwrap the mussels when you get home so they can breathe. then discard any open, broken, chipped, or damaged mussels. place the tightly-closed mussels in a large pot or bowl filled with cold water (this will get rid of some of the salt and sand). next, remove the beard using the following method from here:
"most mussels have what is commonly called a "beard," also known as byssal threads. the beard is made of many fibers which emerge from the mussel's shell. to remove the beard, hold the mussel in one hand, cover the other hand with a dry towel, and grasp the beard; give it a sharp yank toward the hinge end of the mussel. this method will not kill the mussel. if you were to pull the beard out towards the opening end of the mussel you can tear the mussel, killing it. discard the byssal threads."
still with me? next, lift all of the mussels out of the water and place in a strainer (do not pour the water into the strainer, unless you want the sand back in them). set aside while you prepare the sauce.
in a large, deep saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the shallots and garlic, stirring for a few minutes until they begin to cook. add the wine, bring to a boil, and drop the heat back down to medium. add the can of diced tomatoes and their juice to the sauce, stir to combine. add the mussels, stir, and cover with a lid. let sit for a few minutes, until they are cooked through and the shells open. sprinkle the parsley over the mussels, and stir to combine. turn off heat and cover until ready to serve.
in the meantime, place the sliced baguette on a rimmed baking sheet and heat in the oven with the frites (see below). add the bread when the frites have about 5 minutes to go.
for the frites:
preheat oven to 425 degrees. toss potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. cook more or less depending on desired crispiness.
voila, there you have it! ryan and i polished off these bad boys for dinner, but it would make a great appetizer shared among friends. enjoy!