Belgian perfection

Many wonderful and flavorful dishes herald from the beer mecca of Belgium. The best may very well be their national dish – Moules Frites(mussels and fries). Here’s my recipe for this tasty shellfish dish

Moules Frites

2# mussels
3 Shallots minced
2 Stalks of celery diced
Garlic cloves 1-3 depending on preference – I like my mussels garlicky – minced
2 Tablespoons butter
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine or beer*
1/4 chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper
Frites – recipe follows
Slices of crusty bread

Pick through and clean your mussels – debeard – remove the fuzzy thing they use to hold onto the rocks/rope/etc, and scrub your mussels with a vegetable brush. Throw away any with cracked shells. In a large pan melt the butter and sweat the shallots, celery, and garlic. Once softened and translucent – try not to get them caramelized – throw in your mussels, thyme, and add your wine/beer. Cover the pan and cook until the mussels open – about 5-7 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Strain the mussels from the pot reserving the broth. Divide the mussels evenly among your serving bowls, throwing out any mussels that didn’t open. Check the broth for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed. Stir the parsley into the broth. Pour the broth evenly among the bowls. Set bowl on a plate with fries and a few slices of crusty bread. Serve immediately.

*For the wine any dry white will do – I prefer a nice dry Portuguese Vino Verde. For a beer option a nice Belgian strong pale like Duvels works well. A trippel or even a saison would also work well.

Perfect Frites

Large Russet potatoes
2 quarts Fat for frying*
Salt and Pepper
Mayonnaise for dipping

Cut your potatoes into 1/4 by 1/4 batons – sticks. Place your sliced potatoes into a bowl with cold running water. Rinse the potatoes until the water clears. In a 5 quart pan or deep fryer heat your fat to 325 degrees. Remove the potatoes from the water and pat thoroughly dry with a towel. Working in small batches fry the potatoes until they are soft and have gained some slight color – about 7 minutes. Remove the fries and drain on paper towels. At this point the fries are cooked. You can bag them and freeze them for later use if you want. Let the fries rest for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile crank the heat up to 350 degrees. Again working in small batches cook the fries until puffed and golden brown – about 1 minute. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season Immediately with salt and pepper. Serve with mayonnaise for dipping and/or along side perfectly cooked mussels.

*For the fat you have several option available:

The simplest option is Peanut oil or Canola Oil.
For a more Roman take on things use Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the ultimate in decadence do what they do at Hot Doug’s in Chicago and use duck fat!!

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~ by thebrewgeek on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

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