My favorite French meal is moules frites (mussels and fries). The first time I had them was in 2000 when my mother-in-law (not at the time) made them for me and my friend Barbara during our first trip to France. My mother-in-law Marie-Cecile grew up in Bretagne (Brittany in English for some reason) and I love the recipes she has shared with me from France and Morocco. Bretagne is known for it’s moules frites where it is served in almost every restaurant and cafe. Oh, did I forget to mention galette-saucisse is my second favorite French food. I love visiting the farmer’s markets and getting these every time. Since the saucisse is not replicated anywhere outside of Bretagne I can only get the real deal there. Maybe next summer.
While I will never be able to reproduce the tasty moules frites she made when we visited Bretagne every couple of years from the United States, I can try. Now that we live in Europe it is quite easy to find moules in the grocery store. This weekend I decided, since we wouldn’t be visiting Bretagne this summer, I would bring Bretagne to us. I have made moules quite a few times and it is always different. Why, because I don’t go by a specific recipe. A true cook just throws in the ingredients and sees where it leads them. These moules frites were one of my favorites that I have made.
Making moules is quite easy really. Fresh moules are always better but the grocery stores ones are also quite good.
First, just before you cook them clean the moules, taking off the beards and seaweed (if they are fresh from the poissonnier/ fishmonger).
Next sautee onions, scallions, shallots, celery, garlic (whatever mixture you want) and herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves in butter in a very large deep pan. Add liquid – I prefer a white wine and cream – about a cup or so. You can also use broths. Let this simmer for a few minutes. Then add the moules and put the cover on for about 5-10 minutes, mixing them with the liquid and spices, until the moules open up to show that they are cooked.
Now that the moules are done, spoon the moules into your bowl, alongside a bowl of crisp fries and a fresh baguette. Use one of the moule shells to pick out the meat of the moules. It’s kind of like using the shell as tongs.
Oh, if the moule is shut after cooking, don’t eat it. And don’t forget to have an empty bowl next to you to discard the shells.
The liquid on the bottom of your moules is great to sop up with the baguette. I’m drooling just writing this. I hope you enjoy your moules frites. You haven’t lived until you’ve had an authentic moules frites meal and don’t forget the baguette. If you ever get to Bretagne you must try the moules.