Mussels Steamed in Belgian Beer with French Fries


      • 1 Egg Yolk
      • 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water
      • 2 or 3 cloves Garlic, pounded into a paste
      • Sea Salt
      • Pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper (optional)
      • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
      • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Olive Oil


      • 2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
      • 3 shallots, minced, or 1 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
      • 4 pounds Black Mussels, scrubbed and debearded
      • 1 or 2 cloves of Garlic, minced
      • 2 tablespoons Cognac
      • 1 to 1 1/2 Belgian or other Wheat Beer or Dry White Wine
      • 1 cup Crme Fraiche
      • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf Parsley leaves, rinsed and squeezed dry
      • Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
      • French Fries

      To make the aioli, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, 1 tablespoon of the ice water, garlic, salt, and pepper until thick and light. Begin adding the extra virgin olive oil a drop at a time while whisking constantly. As the mixture begins to thicken, begin adding the extra virgin oil in a slow, thin, steady stream while continuing to whisk constantly. When all of the extra virgin oil has been added, begin adding the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, stopping when the egg yolk can absorb no more oil and you have a thick, creamy emulsified sauce. If the sauce begins to break (the oil and egg yolk separate), add a few more drops of ice water. (If you don't feel like employing so much elbow grease, use a blender, processing the egg yolk, ice water, garlic, salt, and pepper until thick and light and then adding the oil in a thin, steady stream with the motor running.)

      To cook the mussels, in a large saut pan or braising pan, melt the butter over high heat. When the butter is hot, add the shallots and cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the shallots begin to soften. Add the mussels, garlic, and Cognac and pour in the beer to a depth of about 1 inch. Cover the pan, bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook, shaking the pan back and forth, for about 5 minutes, until the mussels begin to open. Uncover, and when the mussels have opened, add the crme fraiche and parsley, and swirl to combine. Continue to cook until everything is piping hot. Season with salt and pepper, being conservative with the salt because mussels can be salty.

      To serve, pile the fries on a big plate and place in the center of the table. Divide the mussels evenly among deep bowls, being sure to get a nice amount of broth in the bottom of each bowl and discarding any mussels that failed to open. Serve aioli on the side for guests to enjoy as they like. I don't use it for the mussels. I use it for the fries!