Can the US do it? Can the once vaunted Belgian team live up to expectations?
I love Moules Frites! Here’s why:
100g/3½ oz butter
3 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
500ml/1 pint dry white wine
A bunch of parsley, leaves picked
1.5kg/3lb 5oz mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
5 large, floury potatoes such as King Edwards, peeled
Vegetable oil, for frying
Make the fries first. Slice potatoes lengthways into 5mm-wide slices, then slice these into 5mm-wide chips. Place in cold water for at least 15 minutes to wash off excess starch.
Half fill a deep pan with oil and cover a couple of baking trays with kitchen towel. Use a jam thermometer to heat the oil to 150C/300F. Drain the fries and very carefully lower a few handfuls into the hot oil (you will have to cook them in batches), stir once to prevent them sticking together, then leave to cook for 5 minutes before using a slotted spoon to transfer them to the baking trays to drain. Do the rest of the fries, then leave them to cool to room temperature. Keep the oil in the pan for later.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook until the shallot is soft, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and parsley and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, stir carefully, place a tight lid on the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until they all open. Once cooked, keep them in the pan to stay warm, perhaps adjusting the lid a little so they don’t continue cooking.
Return the oil to the heat, and bring the temperature to 180C/350F. As before, carefully lower small batches of the fries into the oil, stir once, and cook for 3 minutes until crisp and golden. Transfer to freshly lined baking trays to drain, then sprinkle with salt and serve with the mussels.
In honor of the US Captain, Clint Dempsey, I got a classic recipe from Texas guaranteed to make your arteries harden: Chicken-Fried Steak:
First the cream gravy:
2 tablespoons pan drippings, bacon grease or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
Combine fat with flour in a hot skillet, continuously stirring, cook on medium for a couple of minutes until a dark roux is formed.
Add milk slowly to skillet, and mix with roux using either a whisk or wooden spoon (be sure and press out any lumps). Turn heat to low and continue stirring until mixture is thickened, a couple more minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste.
If gravy is too thick for your taste, you can thin it by adding either more milk or water a tablespoon at a time. Goes great with mashed potatoes, fried chicken, biscuits, chicken fried steak, grits, vegetables, rice or anything else you can imagine.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Now for the steak:
1 1/2 pounds top-round steak
2 cups flour
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cream gravy
Cut top-round steak into 4 pieces. Pound beef with a meat tenderizer until flattened and almost doubled in size.
Place flour in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix eggs in another large bowl with milk. Take piece of tenderized beef and coat in flour. Dip coated beef into egg mixture and then dip back into flour again.
Heat on medium enough oil or lard to fill halfway up the sides of a cast-iron skillet. When a drop of water makes the oil sizzle, it’s ready for frying. Take the coated beef and place it in the skillet. When the blood starts bubbling out of the top of the steak (about 3 to 4 minutes) gently turn it over with a long fork (using a spatula can cause the oil to splash out of the skillet).
Cook another 5 minutes and then take the chicken-fried steak out of the pan and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat process for remaining cutlets. And while you’re frying the others, you can keep the cooked steaks warm in the oven.
Serve with cream gravy made from the pan drippings.