If it’s a holiday, there’s a very good chance I’m celebrating it. Christmas? Check. Passover? Check. National Mojito Day? Double check. So when July 14—Bastille Day—started to approach, I knew I needed a way to mark the occasion. It didn’t take me very long at all to decide that a traditional French dinner, accompanied by a glass of Champagne, was in order.
Moules frites, or mussels and French fries, can be found at bistros and brasseries all throughout France. My husband is a big fan of mussels and has cooked them a variety of ways—in white wine with shallots and garlic, and in ale with hunks of sausage—but we both agree that simple here is best. Just look at these beauties!
In honor of Bastille Day, I prepared them the traditional French way—steamed with white wine, garlic, and plenty of butter—and served them alongside baked shoestring fries dusted with sea salt.
And, of course, no French meal would be complete without a fresh baguette, which we promptly ripped apart and used to soak up the extra broth. It doesn’t get much more delicious than that.
Sauvignon Blanc–Steamed Mussels
Serves 4 | Adapted from Food & Wine, and best accompanied by a glass of Champagne and the Edith Piaf Spotify channel
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 lbs. mussels, scrubbed
- 1 1/2 cups Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired
- Place the mussels in a colander and run them under cold water. Scrub them carefully, discarding any that are open or have broken shells. As you clean them, pull or scrape off the “beard”—a thin, sticky membrane a mussel uses to attach itself to a surface—toward the hinged point of the shell. Most farm-raised mussels are already debearded, which makes cleaning them easy, but you might come across a few stubborn ones that still need removing. Give the scrubbed and debearded mussels another rinse.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pot. Add the shallot and garlic, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat, stirring, until the garlic is softened and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
- Add the mussels and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the wine, cover, and steam the mussels until they open, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to 4 deep bowls, discarding any mussels that do not open.
- Add the butter and parsley to the broth, swirling and shaking the pot until the butter melts. Slowly pour the broth over the mussels, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom of the pot. Serve the mussels alongside French fries, a fresh baguette, or garlic toasts.