This recipe for mussels and fries is one that Chef Greg Argent created for his restaurant Forte Bistro. It’s a delicious adaptation on the classic Belgian dish.
For the Moules Frites (serves 2):
2 lbs mussels
100 grams speck (double smoked bacon)
200 grams Gruyere or Compte cheese
1 bottle of Belgian ale
Handful of sliced almonds
Italian parsley, chopped
Lemon, zest and juice
1 russet potato
For the quick bread (makes 4 buns):
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
herbs or bacon or cheese or anything else
Rinse mussels thoroughly and discard any that are open. If you find some that are partially open, tap the shell to see if it closes. If the shell closes, the mussel is still alive and it is safe to cook. Let the mussels soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Clean potato and cut in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/4 inch half-moons. Soak the potatoes in a bowl of water and then dry thoroughly before you toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in the oven at 380 degrees until golden and crispy (approx 30 minutes– flip them at 15 minutes).
See below for quick bread recipe. Start the bread around the same time as the potatoes!
Chop speck and add to heavy-bottomed pot on medium-low heat with 2 tbsps of butter. When speck is sizzling and butter has melted, add leeks and cook slowly until everything melts and starts to brown (about 10 minutes).
Toast the almonds in the oven or on top of the stove. Chop parsley. Zest and juice lemon and grate the cheese. Set all the garnishes aside.
Peel and slice shallots and garlic, then add them to the pot with the leeks and speck. When the potatoes are approximately 5 minutes away from being done, turn up the heat in the pot until everything is sizzling (you want to cook the mussels quickly over high heat so they don’t dry out) and add the rinsed and picked-through mussels. Then add about 1-11/2 cups of beer and allow the mussels to cook with the lid on the pot. This should take about 4-5 minutes.
When mussels are almost done, add the lemon zest and juice and another 2 tbsps of butter and toss very gently. Then add half of the almonds, half of the parsley and half of the grated cheese. Turn off the heat. Gently mix the potatoes into the mussels and then ladle the mussel mixture into bowls. Evenly pour the juice over into the bowls, and add the rest of the cheese. Pop the bowls into the oven for 30 seconds (just to allow the added cheese to melt). Remove from the oven and add the remaining parsley and almonds. Serve!
**The mussels will all open up when they are fully cooked, discard any mussels that don’t open!**
How to make the bread:
Loosely combine flour and yoghurt (don’t over-mix) and add any herbs or cheese or bacon. Shape the dough into hockey puck size buns and flatten slightly. Put into the oven at 380 degrees for about 25 minutes, in the upper rack. Flip gently half-way through so the bottom of the buns don’t brown too much.