Mum and Liz aren’t huge mussel fans, they don’t mind them as part of a meal, but a meal of just mussels isn’t really their cup of tea. So whenever they are out for the evening, dad and I always seize the opportunity for a feast of mussels and beer.

Moules (mussels) Frites (fries) is a popular dish that originated in Belgium but is also well liked in Northern France and is a favourite in Belgian Beer Cafes all over the world.

There are many different variations in sauces and cooking techniques but this one is a fairly basic and traditional version of white wine, onions and butter with my twist of fried leeks on top which gives a sweet and nutty punch that we really enjoyed.

Serves 4

2kgs mussels
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter
2 eshallots, finely diced
1 glove garlic, crushed
1 spring of thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 leek, cut into matchsticks
Oil for shallow frying

5 medium potatoes (get any potato that is good for roasting or chips)
1 tbs salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain flour

First we need to get the chips on. Preheat your over to 220°C and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Slice potatoes thickly, lengthways and then cut into 1cm batons. You can peel the potatoes if you like, I prefer skin on. Place in a sink of ice cold water for a minute or so. Remove from water and pat dry.

Place in a large bowl with oil, salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss and coat. Then add your flour and lightly toss until just coated. This will go a bit gluggy and will coat slightly unevenly but this adds to the look and feel of a ‘beer battered’ chip. Place on oven trays and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

For the moules, start off by cleaning and debearding the mussels, then set aside until needed.

In a small saucepan or pan, heat oil, once hot, add the leeks, stirring constantly. Once golden, remove and drain on paper towel. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, add the oil, butter, eshallots and garlic and cook over a medium heat until soft and translucent, stirring often to avoid browning. Increase heat and add wine, bay leaf, thyme, cream, salt and pepper and bring to the boil and allow to reduce slightly.

Add the mussels and cook covered for 5 minutes, shaking every now and then to move the mussels and splash with sauce. Once the mussels are all open and cooked, take off the heat. You want to cook the mussels until just cooked and open, overcooking makes mussels shrink and go tough. You want to keep them plump and juicy.

Serve mussels in large bowls or pots, pouring the sauce over the mussels. Garnish with fried leeks and parsley and serve with chips.

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