Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mussels & pommes frites

Ever read any of M.F.K. Fisher's books? Her culinary writing—The Gastronomical Me, Consider the Oyster, Long Ago in France (just to name a few!) — are classics and will sweep you away to France by the end of the first page. We must have been thinking of her last week when we had spicy mussels in white wine and pommes frites cooked in, um, duck fat. I had ordered the duck fat from Amazon a while ago and was waiting patiently for the perfect summer evening to have our moules-frites, as they say in France and Belgium. We started the meal with a beet Napoleon—slices of earthy sweet beets layered with an herbed goat cheese. 

To make the broth for the mussels, in a pot sauté diced shallots and garlic in some butter, then add bay leaves, chili peppers, dijon mustard, fennel seeds, (photo below) with white wine and half a lemon. When the broth comes to a boil toss in the mussels. It's that easy. Dan claims that the broth is the best part, eaten either with a spoon or with a crusty baguette. The frites need two rounds of cooking—once in a lower temperature then once at a higher temperature—but trust me, it's worth the effort. Pass the time by sipping a nice French Rosé while you're at the stove, mais oui? Sprinkle the frites with chopped parsley and fleur de sel as you pull out each sizzling batch. Getting hungry yet? Go and get yourself an M.F.K. Fisher book and cook this meal. You'll feel like you are in a cafe on the coast of Marseille. Bon Appétit!

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