Thursday, March 31, 2016

Recipe of the Week: Thinking about Belgium

When I first heard about the terrorist attacks in Belgium, my heart sank.  I just can't understand the hatred in the world.  It makes me so sad.    

I didn't know much about Belgium....I still don't.  But I Google searched a map and began pulling up some random facts about the country, people, history and culture.  They are best known for their chocolate, waffles, fries and beer.  Life expectancy at birth is 81. Their population is highly educated and despite its size, they are a big world exporter with more than 80 percent of their GDP heading overseas.

So, in honor of love, support and compassion, here is a traditional Belgian dish.  Mussels are a Belgian staple.  They are cheap and plentiful and once thought to be food for the poor.  After World War I, the dish boomed and slowly migrated to bistros and restaurants around the world.


MOULES FRITES (Steamed Mussels and Fries)


1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 egg yolk
1 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/4 thick sticks
2 1/2 pounds mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
2/3 cup white wine or sherry
2 tbsp butter cubed
3 ribs celery, chopped finely
1 1/2 leeks, light green and white parts cut into thin slices
1/2 large yellow onion


Make the mayonnaise:  In a food processor (or a large bowl), whisk the mustard and egg yolk.  Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil in a thin stream until it begins to emulsify; whisk in vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Make Fries: Pour oil into a 6 qt Dutch oven to a depth of 2 inches, and heat over medium-high heat until a thermometer reads 375F.  Add potatoes in batches and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.  Using a slopped spoon, transfer fries to a rack set over a baking sheet; cool.

Increase oil temperature to 385F. Working in batches, add cooled potatoes and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.  using a slotted spoon, return fries to rack and season with salt.

Meanwhile, make the mussels: Heat a 12" high sided skillet over high heat. Add mussels, wine, butter, celery, leeks, and onions; season with salt and pepper, and cover skillet, until all mussels are opened, about 5 minutes. Divide mussels between 2 large bowls. Serve with fries and mayonnaise.

Variations: I like to add a bit of garlic, heavy cream and either a splash of Pernod or sherry if there is no wine at home.  Some Belgians prefer 2/3 cup of wheat beer and a bit of curry to their mussels.

Image courtesy of Google Images
Recipe adapted from Savuer