moules frites

Moules-frites are a dish traditional to Northern France and if you haven't had the chance to try this great combination of fresh mussels and crispy French fries, you will want to make this for yourself and just see what you have been missing!

They are to be seen everywhere in Northern France and if you have been lucky enough to visit any of the markets in the region you may well have seen this dish and even tried them.

As the area is close to Belgium it has much of the Flemish flavour with many of it's dishes. Beer or cider is drunk with the dishes, especially the pale beers which are very good.

If you have been afraid to cook mussels, you are not on your own. Many people are reluctant to try and cook these wonderful shell fish yet they are so very easy to cook.

It is in fact the preparation that is important and once you understand this procedure, the rest is easy.

They need to be cleaned properly – scrubbed with a small brush under running water to remove the grit as you don't want any grit in your teeth.

Then you need to remove the beard – the long string like thing that hangs from the shells. This is time consuming, so allow plenty of time in which to do it.

Mussels need to be closed when you pop them in the pan – throw any away if they are open. When they are cooked they should be open – again, throw them away if they remain closed. Please take care with this part!

Now you are ready to make your moules-frites!

Ingredients

·         1kg mussels (per person, is ample), cleaned and beard removed (the mussels, not the person!) – scrub with a brush under running water

·         1 to 2 tablespoons butter

·         2 shallots or 1 small onion, chopped

·         3–4 garlic cloves, chopped

·         1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

·         1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

·         250mls white wine or beer – pale not dark

·         Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the French fries (frites)

You will need about 4–6 potatoes, peeled or unpeeled

Cut the potatoes into ¼ inch slices or rounds

Cut the slices into strips about ¼ inch wide or wider if you prefer them a little thicker.

Soak them in a bowl of salted water for about an hour to remove the starch.

Finally rinse the potato strips and dry well on a tea towel or kitchen paper.

Fry in hot oil until they are golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

The next stage is to cook your mussels.



Method

·         Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat.

·         Add the chopped shallots/onion, garlic and cook gently for a few minutes until soft.

·         Add the wine or beer, bring to the boil and immediately simmer with lid on the pan for about eight minutes.

·         Add the herbs and season with coarse salt and pepper as required – taste to see how much you need any first.

·         Keep warm as you finish the last stage of your fries.

·         Last Stage – reheat the oil and fry the potatoes for a few minutes then drain on kitchen paper before serving.

Serve your Moules-frites in small bowls with a little of the cooking juices along with a bowl of crispy French fries and crispy French bread if you are hungry!


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