Cooking through Cultures: French Moules et Frites (Mussels & Fries)

July 11, 2017 3 Comments

We are in the midst of our family birthday season – all three of our girls have summer birthdays within a month of each other followed by my husband two weeks later, and then at the end of the summer, mine. Needless to say, summer is our season of cupcakes and candles and many, many rounds of “Happy Birthday!”We have several traditions that we incorporate around our birthdays around here – and most of them are centered around food. First, the birthday girl (or boy) gets breakfast in bed (which is a tradition from my family growing up) and they also get to choose what they want for their birthday dinner. For as long as I can remember, all three girls request mussels and fries for their celebratory dinner. All three girls are also at different levels of picky-eater-ness, but, thankfully and maybe a little miraculously they ALL love this quintessential French dish. In fact, for my oldest’s 8th birthday – when we happened to be in Paris to celebrate, we took the whole crew to a Mussels & Fries spot on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées – a meal they still talk about today.

 

 

Brad and I have discovered that mussels are easy, affordable and special. Also, I recently learned that mussels are sustainable. We’ve started making mussels and fries for New Years Eve, Valentines Day and various other holidays when a festive dinner celebration is in order. We even made over 6 pounds for Brad’s family in Pittsburgh last week to celebrate family birthdays (we also made shrimp pasta for the cousins who don’t love mussels as much as our girls do). We’ve tried different recipes –  but these days we ALWAYS use this Jamie Oliver recipe and it is ALWAYS amazing. Plus, it includes about 1/2 bottle of white wine – so the other half is perfect for sipping while you cook. We also prefer these frozen shoestring fries from Whole Foods (where we usually get our mussels) – they also sell mussels locally at Costco, but they don’t always have the fresh bags. You may have to do a little checking around. Of course, in Pittsburgh, we got our mussels in the Strip District at Wholy’s Fish Market – which was a fabulous family adventure! Sometimes we serve the mussels with french bread for sopping up all of the delicious juice. Okay, maybe we always do this. The broth is pretty amazing.

 

Here’s our go-to recipe (we usually double this for our family of 5):

 

Ingredients:
1 kilo (or about 2 lbs.) mussels
4 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
A small bunch of fresh parsley
1/2 bottle of dry white wine
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup cream

 

Roughly mince shallots. Crush 2 cloves of garlic. Pull leaves off of parsley and chop roughly. Rinse mussels under running cold water. Scrub them and remove any dirt, barnacles, or fibrous stuff — Very Important — Discard the broken ones and also the ones who would not close when lightly squeezed. In a large casserole pan (we use a ceramic slow cooker), over medium heat, add about 2 tablespoons butter. Add shallots and garlic and cook until they get soft. After a few minutes, pour in about half a bottle of fresh and acidic white wine, like Muscadet or Sauvignon or whatever white wine you like. Season well with salt and pepper. Let the wine evaporate a bit. You can also use beer or cider, instead. If you don’t want to use alcohol, simply replace the wine with a pint of veggie stock and a drizzle of vinegar. Place the mussels in the pot and cook covered for about 5 minutes, Stirring once or twice. When they open nicely, they are ready to go. Just discard the closed ones. Add a large splash of cream. Finally, sprinkle with fresh parsley and stir well to combine. Serve with french fries on the side.

 

Giveaway: This giveaway has ended. Geo Journeys is a UK based subscription service with kid adventure kits from all over the world. If you sign-up for their 12-month subscription, kids receive a packet of information from a different country each month and they learn all about each country by following the adventures of two adorable characters, Geo and Atlas. All of the country packs come with a fact filled letter from Geo and Atlas detailing their adventures and teaching little ones about capital cities, popular foods, cultural events and famous landmarks.  Kits come from Japan, Canada, Italy and more. In honor of our beloved French “Moules et Frites,” Geo Journey is giving away their France Adventure Kit.

Simply comment here and share one of your family birthday traditions…and check out the Geo Journey Subscription Service (they have a space kit too!)  Entries will be accepted until midnight Thursday, July 13, 2017. You must comment on THIS post to receive an entry. Bonne chance & happy adventures!

Sarah

3 Comments

  1. Reply

    Jen C

    July 11, 2017

    Since the twins birthday is in Fevruyand usually around Mardi Gras, we have always had a King Cake for their birthday – some years they even get it for breakfast. For other special occasions like Xmas or New Years we usually make beignets.

    • Reply

      Sarah

      July 11, 2017

      Love, Love this tradition of yours! xoxo

  2. Reply

    Rosemary

    July 12, 2017

    The Birthday Girl or Boy gets to pick the kind of cake they want and we make it together! I usually add some sort of surprise decoration item for the cake too.

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