Moules Frites S’il Vous Plaît!

Moules Frites

Such a simple and satisfying meal best served with a side of sweet potato fries.  One of our favorite meals…

There are countless French restaurants in New York City, not to mention several 24-hour bistros.  When I first moved here, I insisted we go on a 3AM escargot binge at a nearby cafe not because we were craving it, but simply because we can.  Where I come from, we didn’t have 24-hour French restaurants.

Besides escargot, another staple item that we always had to try each time we went inside a bistro is the moules frites.  Anything sounds fancy in French, even if it is just mussels and fries.  I fell in love with the simplicity of this dish and I couldn’t wait to make it at home.  Finally the warm weather came around and these little mollusks began popping up at every seafood stand.  Even at Whole Foods, whom we have a love-hate relationship with (we love the quality of organic and gourmet products but we hate their sometimes over-priced items), we can find mussels at $5.99 for 2 pounds!  And our personal favorite accompaniment of sweet potato fries are bought frozen from Trader Joe’s.  Never a disappointment, moules frites has always been a crowd-pleaser for us.


2 lbs. mussels, rinsed and drained
8 cloves garlic, minced (we love garlic!)
1 large shallot, minceds
1 pinch saffron threads, soaked in 4 tbsp water
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups white wine
1 cup water
salt, pepper, crushed red chili to taste
parsley or thyme for garnish
  1. In a skillet, add the olive oil and garlic then turn on very low heat.  It is important to add the garlic prior to heating the skillet as this will keep your garlic from burning.  Add shallots and crushed red chili flakes to the skillet and simmer for 7-9 minutes.
  2. Add wine, water and saffron mixture to the skillet.  Stir and let it simmer.  Meanwhile, cook the mussels in a medium-sized pot over medium heat and leave it covered for about 10-12 minutes (mussels are cooked when the shells open up).  It is not necessary to add any water.  Just throw the mussels into the pot and they will release natural juices.
  3. When the shells have opened up, pour your garlic white wine mixture over the mussels and stir to blend  with the natural juices.  Serve immediately and garnish with parsley of thyme.

Devour with a side of frites and a nice crusty baguette for dipping.  Hesitant to throw away any of the leftover sauce at the end of your fantastic meal?  Moi aussi (me too)!  Simply set aside any remaining broth and use it to poach a nice halibut filet or sole for tomorrow’s dinner.  We never waste a perfectly delicious garlic and white wine sauce!

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