A favourite was a neighbourhood brew pub that featured locally-sourced food, and my top-pick from that menu was always the Moules-frites.
Mussels and fries.
The Mussels were cooked in a gorgeous broth and the dish came with a glorious dollop of aioli, for dipping.
Really elegant comfort food.
I’m thrilled to have created an Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) version, with an Avocado Aioli inspired by Hollie at Simply Whole Foods.
Moules-frites originates in Belgium, where people get really serious about the dish. Belgium is tiny, but apparently between 25-30 thousand tonnes of moules are eaten there each year with frites.
It’s infinitely better than my first experiences cooking mussels.
I grew up on the west coast of Canada.
When we were kids, sometimes on sunny summer afternoons, a few friends and I would decide that we didn’t need to live with our parents anymore. Instead, we were going to live free in the woods and forage for food.
We’d gather up rosehips and mussels and make a fire on the beach to celebrate our independence.
But mussels cooked over an open fire are really tough. And rosehips are mostly inedible. Eventually it would get dark and we’d straggle home.
Sometimes, even now, I still yearn to live free. And Moules-frites is everything I wanted Mussels and Rosehips to be way back then.
- 1 pound Mussels
- 2 cups Bone Broth
- 2 medium-sized white Sweet Potatoes
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
- 3 teaspoons Himalayan Salt (or similar)
- 1 teaspoon ground Turmeric
- 1 ripe Avocado
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons Lime Juice
First, the Mussels
Mussels can be intimidating the first time, but they are easy the second!
When you buy Mussels, they are alive. Or they should be. So plan to cook them soon. When alive and fresh, mussels smell mild and pleasant, like the ocean.
When transporting them (and should you need to store them in the fridge for a day or two), don’t seal them up in a plastic bag or a covered container. Keep them cold and let them breathe.
When you are ready to cook, sort through and discard any with broken shells. You only want to cook live ones. Keep all the Mussels that are closed. Test any that are open by tapping them gently against a hard surface. If they are alive, they’ll close up. Sometimes slowly. Discard any mussels that haven’t closed within a couple of minutes.
The final preparation step is ‘debearding’ the mussels. Your mussels may already be debearded, but if they aren’t, it’s simple. The brown shreds that looks like seaweed at one side of the mussel is called the beard. Grab it and wiggle it back and forth until it pulls away. Discard the beard.
If you’re working with wild mussels you’ll want to rinse them carefully in cold water to remove any sand or mud, but most store-bought mussels will already be clean.
Now the mussels are ready to cook.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Peel the sweet potatoes and slice into fries about 1/2 an inch wide.
Place the Frites on a baking sheet and add the coconut oil in a couple of dollops. Pop the pan in the oven for a minute, until the oil is melted. Remove the baking sheet, toss the Frites in the warm oil, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Salt and the Turmeric and bake for 30 minutes, turning gently twice.
Meanwhile make the Aioli.
Then heat the bone broth in a large saucepan with the 2nd teaspoon of Salt.
Five minutes before the Frites are done, pop the prepared Mussels into the boiling broth and cover. Give the mussels a shake or two during the next 6 minutes. When 6 minutes are up, inspect the mussels. All the shells should now be open. Discard any that aren’t.
Puree the Avocado with the Olive Oil, Lime Juice and the final teaspoon of Salt in a food processor.
Traditionally, Moules and Frites are served separately, so the Frites don’t get soggy. The Moules are served in the pan with the stock used to cook them, which keeps them moist. The Aioli can be served in a separate ramekin or on a plate beside the Frites
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