Moules frites are easily one of my favorite things to order at a seafood restaurant. If you eat a dish like this outdoors in the summertime, ideally with your feet in the sand or resting gently on the grass, you will remember it forever. Don’t be afraid to work with mussels—they take a little while to clean, but they cook in minutes and are very inexpensive.
1 pound frozen tots (about 45 tots)
3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound Spanish chorizo, finely diced (see Notes)
2 celery ribs, leaves roughly chopped (to equal 1/4 cup) and ribs finely chopped
2 shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 1/2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and rinsed (see Notes)
1/4 cup banana pepper rings
1/2 cup citrusy, hoppy beer, such as IPA
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley Juice of 1 lemon
1 Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2 Place the tots on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Toss the tots gently to coat them evenly with the oil, then spread them out in an even layer. Bake, carefully flipping the tots halfway through the cooking, until crispy and browned, about 20 minutes.
3 Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has rendered a lot of its fat and is starting to crisp up, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped celery and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes.
4 Add the mussels and banana pepper rings and stir. Add the beer, bring it to a simmer, and cook until all of the mussels have opened, 3 to 5 minutes. (Discard any mussels that remain closed.)
5 Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the celery leaves, parsley, and lemon juice. Pour into a large, shallow bowl or a platter.
6 Serve immediately with the tots on the side to dip into all that delicious broth or, if you have a big enough bowl, dump the tots right on top of the mussels and dig in!
Spanish chorizo can be found in the grocery store near the ham, bacon, and other cured and cooked meat products. It is sold fully cooked (like a hot dog) and has a smoky, paprika-y flavor.
To clean mussels, rinse them in cold water and pull off any strings or barnacles that are attached. Sometimes you will need to pull off the beard, which is a stringy membrane that sticks halfway out of the seam of the mussel. Grab on tight when you find one and pull it out firmly. If you find an open mussel, tap the shell with your finger and see if it closes automatically. If it doesn’t close, discard that mussel.
Excerpted from Tots! 50 Tot-ally Awesome Recipes from Totchos to Sweet Po-tot-o Pie by Dan Whalen (Workman Publishing). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by Matthew Benson.
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