Last weekend, as my husband (who is still pondering his username…right now it’s between “buns of steel”, “sticky buns” and “honey buns”) was eating takeout pizza for the second night in a row when we decided we were really sucking at cooking at home. We both love to cook, but it’s tough to do after work…and the gym (hopefully!)…and feeding/loving/cleaning/rocking Foodie Baby (FB). Usually, if we can plan meals ahead of time, and I go to the grocery store at the beginning of the week, we do a great job of cooking. Lately, we’ve been walking to the grocery store after work and getting enough food for that night’s meal (plus snacks for the walk home) or just buying coconut water (our new obsession) and ordering takeout. But NOT this week! We have a menu planned…at least until we leave town on Thursday. And we are having friends over for dinner on Wednesday. So we’re committed…unless we order pizza. (ha!)
Last night we made Moules Frites, complete with homemade french fries! I started prepping the meal while “honey buns” (using that name while referring to my husband makes me a little nauseous) played with FB outside. Prep was pretty easy. I chopped garlic, shallots and parsley for the mussels, cut the potatoes using the mandolin, and let the mussels soak in water.
Buy your mussels as fresh as possible. I made a special trip to our “fishmonger” to purchase the mussels this afternoon. They really do taste better fresh, and I feel like there’s less chance you will get some weird shellfish related food sickness if you buy from a fishmonger. That may just be my paranoia talking.
The guy at the fish market told us to leave the bag of mussels open instead of tying it shut. I think it’s so that the little dudes can breathe, but that’s kind of sad to think about so I decided it was to “air them out”, and that’s the story I’m sticking with.
Some people/recipes told us to brine the mussels prior to cooking them. Last time we did, and this time we didn’t. We just scrubbed the “beards” (ew) off of them and let them soak in water while we did the rest of the prep. They were better than last time, but we also used a different broth recipe so I can’t say if the lack of brine had anything to do with it.
The guy at the fish market also threw in a few cockles because I said I’d never had them before. Oh. My. Goodness. They were AMAZING! They were saltier than the mussels and much smaller. They had a rich taste and I think they would be delicious in a pasta dish.
I digress…I finished prepping the mussels and potatoes and began heating the oil to fry the potatoes. I threw the potatoes in the oil for their initial fry. (Did you know? The secret to deliciously crispy fries is to fry them twice! More on that later.)
By then it was time for FB’s bath (this is where the relay comes into play) so TAG! Honey Buns (barf) took over the frying while bathed and pajamaed FB. By the time he was asleep, HB (ok, I can live with that) had started the broth for the mussels and put the potatoes in for their second round of fryin’.
TAG! I took over the fries, added salt, plated them and set the table while HB finished the mussels. We grabbed some crusty bread and Tah Dah! A delicious dinner in less than 30 minutes. We probably should have added a salad, but instead we added a glass of Fallia pinot noir. Delish!
- 2 lb. mussels
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or any other crisp, herbal white wine *
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Good-quality crusty bread, sliced or torn into pieces, for serving
Rinse the mussels well under cold water. Pick them over, pulling off any beards and discarding any mussels that are broken or gaping open.
In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant and soft but not colored, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the mussels, wine, and half of the parsley. Increase the heat to high, and cover the pan. After 2 minutes, remove the lid and toss the mussels well with a large spoon. Cover the pot again and cook until the mussels have opened wide, another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining parsley, give the mussels a final toss, and divide the mussels and the broth among bowls. Serve the bread alongside.
*We used a 2006 Merryvale Starmont because it was already open in the fridge. Apparently there is no such thing as Merryvale Starmont anymore…it’s just Starmont now. So this chardonnay was probably past its prime. It worked just fine for the mussels.
- 3 potatoes, scrubbed (I used 2 last night and HB said I always “deprived” him of adequate potato supplies. So make your guest happy and use 1.5 potatoes per person.
- Canola oil for frying.
- Coarse sea salt