Traditional Moules Frites get a playful twist with Moroccan spices, bold harissa, and fresh mint. I made this recipe with sherry, but Columbia Winery's Chardonnay works just as well with the warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, and coriander featured in the mussels. Note: While I provide a recipe for homemade frites, if you prefer to avoid the fryer, you can also serve these mussels with a crispy baguette. —Brooke Bass | Chocolate + Marrow
For the frites:
medium Russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into long 1/2 inch strips (or smaller, depending on preferences)
canola or other neutral-tasting oil
For the mussels:
cloves garlic, roughly chopped
dry sherry or Chardonnay
1 1/2 cups
harissa, plus more for garnish
live mussels, scrubbed and debearded
Fresh mint, for garnish
In This Recipe
For the frites:
Rinse the potato strips in a bowl filled with cold water, changing the water several times. Lay them out on paper towels and pat dry, doing your best to get as much moisture out of them as possible.
Fill a fryer or a Dutch oven with canola oil, at least 2 to 3 inches high. Heat over medium heat until oil reaches 300 to 325° F. Add 1 to 2 heaping handfuls of the potatoes and cook until you notice them just beginning to turn lightly golden on the edges and the texture starts to look slightly more puffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. It’s important to make sure the oil temperature is right—too low and the fries will absorb too much oil; too high and they’ll cook unevenly. Also, the potatoes will bubble and pop roughly in the hot oil, so be careful while handling. Work in batches while you fry so that the potatoes aren’t overcrowded. If you add too many at a time, the temperature of the oil will drop too quickly and your frites will turn out too oily. After each batch is finished, remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain.
Preheat oven to 200° F.
Once you’re ready for the second fry, increase the heat to medium-high until it reaches approximately 350 to 375° F. Add the first-fried potatoes back into the now very hot oil, one to two handfuls at a time, and fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. (Again, work in batches here and be sure not to overcrowd the pan.) Remove with a slotted spoon and rest either on paper towels or a wire rack to drain. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
If you’re too engrossed in cooking the frites to worry about the mussels, spread the finished frites out onto a wire wrack and place in the preheated oven for up to 30 minutes while you prepare the mussels.
For the mussels:
In a large pot or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until they begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the saffron threads, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, and salt, then increase the heat to medium-high and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the sherry to the pan and continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once nearly all of the sherry liquid has cooked down, add the seafood stock, harissa, butter, and stir. Reduce the heat to medium, add the mussels, and cover he pot or pan with a tight fitting lid. Continue simmering the liquid until all of the mussels have opened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Spoon the mussels and broth into bowls, discarding any unopened mussels. Garnish with mint and additional harissa, if desired, and serve with a crusty baguette or fresh frites.