Moules à la Marinière with Oven Fries

Did you know that you can make the same restaurant food you usually ooh and aah over in your own kitchen? Did you know it will cost you at least half that? Did you know how much more proud you will feel and how much better tasting it will be? Yes, I am inventing hot water! 🙂 I dislike going to restaurants where what they’re serving is something that I know I can make at home, and I can make it better and with better ingredients and probably less fat and less sodium. I don’t want to come out as holier than thou, but if I go to a restaurant, I want it to be an all-out unforgettable experience. And those, don’t come that often, because they’re pricey. I mean, there is a reason a bowl of pasta at a franchise restaurant doesn’t cost as much as a bowl of pasta at a one-off restaurant with a good chef. Therefore, in the meantime, you turn your own kitchen in the best restaurant you can have 🙂

Mussels can be affordable, or not depending where you are. I don’t know if you can do this with frozen ones, I have never tried. But, if you find them fresh, do get them once in a while. They are worth it. I believe they are usually cheaper than the other shellfish and moluscs, plus, I don’t need to remind you how good they are for you. This is the best way I like having them, because their natural flavours shine. The one thing you need to make sure is that they are fresh. If they are, they can wait for you, uncooked in the fridge for 1 day, but I wouldn’t hold off any more than that. It is something you eat fresh, so don’t wait on it.

I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but only because it was my first time making them and wanted to know what was up what was down. I don’t know why I needed to do that, since it is as simple as spreading butter on toast. She accompanies them with fries, which is the natural conclusion. She gives us an adapted recipe from Michael Chiarello, which I followed. I didn’t like it in the end. The potatoes are boiled first then put in the oven, I guess to speed up the process. Well, they weren’t browning in the oven, they were taking way too long, so I put them under the broiler towards the end. I didn’t like the way they browned, but I couldn’t cook them any further. If you ask me, you are better off either frying the potatoes if you’re serious about fries or skip the boiling and just toss them with olive oil and bake them in the oven. I would’ve preferred that and it would’ve saved me on extra dishes. Live and learn.

Lastly, this mussels recipe is originally from Julia Child and I did keep the liquid quantities the same as the full recipe, but I adjusted the butter. Seriously, Julia, 85 gr of butter?! Why??? I used 25 gr and it is not any less tasty!

Ingredients:

800 gr mussels, with shell on

2 cups (500 ml) dry white wine (I had Chardonnay)

1/2 cup minced onions/shallots (I used 8 mini onions)

2 garlic cloves, minced (my addition; mussels with no garlic?!?!)

8 parsley sprigs (I didn’t have this, but do use them)

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp thyme

1/8 tsp pepper

25 gr butter

1 tbsp chopped fresh/frozen parsley

780 gr potatoes, peeled and chopped in thin strips, batons

olive oil

salt and pepper

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.

2. Boil the potatoes until softened, about 3/4 ways of their cooking time.

3. Strain and toss with olive oil and seasoning.

4. Spread on a baking sheet in one layer and bake in the oven until they brown.

5. Wash the mussels under cold water. Toss any that are already open. Throw away any sea weed/grass attached to the shells.

6. Bring the wine, butter, seasonings (parsley sprigs included, but not the chopped parsley leaves) to a boil in a large solid pot with a lid. Boil for a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate a bit.

7. Throw in the mussels, cover, hold the lid and pot’s handles with your hands and give the mussels a shake. Let them cook on high to medium high heat for a few minutes, giving them a shake once in a while. All of this will take around 5 minutes. They steam open pretty quickly.

8. With a big skimmer remove the mussels from the wine sauce and serve in bowls. Allow any sand to fall to the bottom of the pot for a few minutes. Spoon some of the sauce over the mussels and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

the sun and the sea…

Enjoy your gourmet bistro lunch!

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