Sunday, September 14, 2008

Moules Frites (or A Return from Kitchen Exile)

First breakfast, and now a lunch in a new house. It's a slow work up to making a dinner, but now that I'm just about settled in a dish that involved deep frying on a stove without any type of ventilation seemed like an appropriate way to check out what it'd be like to clean up a little bit of a mess.

Regarding mussels, years ago I spent about five months in the Netherlands. Those mussel connoisseurs were pretty serious about only eating mussels in months that have an "r" in them. While that policy seems more relevant with certain oysters that don't seem to improve in warm water, it stuck for me, so I loosely abide by it.

Making the mussels was pretty simple, starting with a quick trip to Kate's Fish at the West Side Market, where I was reminded how economical a choice mussels are. When I got them home I melted a bunch of butter (Stutzman Herdshare) in a cast iron pan along with some minced shallot from the garden. When that was all hot and fragrant I added the mussels and a bunch of basil leaves. The pan was covered, occasionally shaken, and taken off the heat when all the mussels opened up (they all opened). It smelled wonderful. In an effort to get out from under a mountain of tomatoes I meant to throw some diced tomato into the mix, but it was not meant to be. While I think they would have been a nice addition, they weren't particularly missed.

The mussels were dumped into a bowl with some toasted baguette. Another unremarkable baguette picked up on the West Side of Cleveland. It wasn't poisonous, but wasn't what it could be. The toasting helped though.

And the frites, made while preparing the mussels. Julienned garden fingerlings twice fried in duck fat in a wok. The wok is great for deep frying small quantities of foods using a minimal amount of fat. I cooked the potatoes in hot fat until they lost some moisture, removed them with a spider onto a plate lined with a paper towel, and then fried them again, removing them from the fat when they were crispy and quickly seasoned them with salt. Next to try them with some horse fat, or more likely, rendered beef suet (tallow).

Clean up was a breeze, and I think the Benelux folks would respect this rendition of their dish. Hopefully the basil didn't hurt anyone's feelings.


maybelle's mom said...

sounds wonderful. (glad the new kitchen is fun.) I love mussels and love how sustainable they are.

The CFT said...

They are a wonderful thing. Back when I was on the sunrise end of town my favorite place to get them was Maxi's. All the folks on this side of town seem to include chorizo w/ their mussels. Not that I'm against pork or spice . . . .

OhioMom said...

I love mussels cooked simple this way. Glad you are enjoying your new kitchen.

The CFT said...

Me too, and thanks.