Hi everyone! I was in St. Louis last week visiting my parents with my two boys. And my dog. I haven’t gotten back to the kitchen yet but my husband did some yummy cooking before we left and agreed to do a guest post for me….
Hi, I’m “hubby” and I’m doing a guest blog this week. My first jobs in high school and college were at restaurants and I’ve cooked ever since. It’s great that Suzanne and I both enjoy cooking since it brings us closer together. I’ve written a couple blog entries about doing stuff you love and food which you can read at these links:
Last weekend, Suz said she wanted to take things easy for dinner and I said I’d take over for Sunday. She reminded me that I had mussels on my brain and I figured I should go for it. I’ve cooked them a few times before and in general, it’s pretty a painless and fun dish. Even our youngest son, the picky eater, enjoys them. For the most part, it’s all simple prep and you get a tasty meal that looks fabulous. In the past, we’ve wanted fries to complete the “moules frites”.
My first challenge was getting enough mussels for the main dish. We went to a smaller seafood seller near us but they only had just over two pounds. Then we went to Whole Foods near us and they had plenty. I believe they were farm-raised and they were definitely de-bearded which was great. De-bearding mussels is a pain because each mollusk has to be done. The guy at the counter tapped each mussel to make sure it was alive – great service! Make sure your mussels are NOT in a sealed plastic bag and do not put them directly in a bowl ice or they’ll drown. Dead mussels are no good. I put mine in a colander on top of some ice and only lost one of them out of 3½ pounds. Any melting ice will drain and you can just add some more on top if needed. Here they are being happy as clams.
My next step was to prep what I was going to add to the mussels. The first thing was to get our Dutch oven and brown a few strips of bacon over medium high heat. Leave the fat at the bottom of the pot, you’ll use it. Next, I chopped the bacon as well as the rest of my ingredients: 4 tomatoes, about a cup of parsley, and two very large shallots which I sliced. Wash the mussels well, which the colander works perfectly for. If there’s an open one, tap it with one of its friends. If it doesn’t close, pitch it because it’s dead.
Cook the shallots about 5 minutes in the bacon fat until they’re tender. Then deglaze the bottom of the pot with a cup and a half of white wine; I used Chardonnay. Cook off the alcohol and reduce the contents for about another five minutes. Add in the tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.
Add the mussels and stir them in with the shallots and tomatoes, then put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Leave them alone for 15 minutes then either transfer the contents of the pot to a large bowl or serve them in what you cooked them in. Sprinkle the chopped bacon and parsley on top and lightly toast something like a baguette to sop up the broth. Also, make sure you’ve got an extra large bowl for the shells.
Since the dish is known as Moules Frites, fries are a requisite compliment to the mussels. In the past, we’ve used a variety of frozen fries. They’ve all been a bit disappointing. I did some research and tracked down the following recipe: Perfectly Thin and Crispy French Fries.
- 3½ Pounds Live Mussels – Preferably PEI
- 4 Strips Bacon
- 1 Bunch Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley – Chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 Large Shallots – Sliced
- 1 Cup White Wine
- 4 Large Tomatoes – Chopped
- Several slices of toasted bread such as a baguette. At least two per person.
De-beard mussels if needed and rinse in fresh cold water. Do not drown them.
Brown the bacon on medium-high until crisp in a large pot or Dutch oven. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels.
Sauté the shallots in the bacon fat until tender, about 5 minutes.
Pour 1 cup wine in bottom of the pot and deglaze the bottom while scraping with a wooden spoon. Cook off the alcohol for another 5 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes and cook for two minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
Add all live mussels (they should be closed or close when tapped).
Cover the pot and let the mussels steam for 15 minutes. Chop the bacon during this time.
Add the chopped parsley and bacon.Either serve the contents of the pot in a bowl or in the pot.