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Bastille Day is perfect for mussels, frites

Bastille Day is July 14. Celebrate France and its culinary contributions with this classic pair.

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Make the garlic-infused oil. Bash the garlic cloves with the side of a chef’s knife and discard the skins. Roughly chop garlic and place in a jar. Add olive oil, cover jar with lid and shake for a moment (the jar, not you). Set aside for at least several hours and up to a day or more.

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Make the frites. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes under cold running water. Peel the potatoes if you absolutely must, but the frites are better if you don’t – they look cooler and taste better, and you don’t throw away major nutrients if you leave the skin on. Slice lengthwise into fry-shaped strips. There are handy kitchen gadgets for creating uniform fries, but I like hand-cut fries (my, this is an opinionated recipe, isn’t it?).

Soak potato strips in a bowl of cold water for several minutes, changing the water twice, to remove some of the starch. Pat dry and toss with 2 tablespoons of garlic-infused oil (the extra tablespoon was just so you’re not having to squeeze oil from the garlic cloves), salt, pepper and herbes de Provence.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast in oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve.

Kitchen Notes

Herbes de who? If you’re even a semi-regular here, you know this dried herbs mix is a regular in our kitchen. Herbes de Provence seems to be one of those classic ingredients that instantly evokes France, or more specifically, Provence. So I was stunned to learn that it actually wasn’t created until the 1970s. According to wiseGEEK, “Herbes de Provence are loosely defined as an herb mix which includes both French and Italian herbs, in a blend of sweet and savory. The end result is complex in flavor and can be used on a variety of foods.” The mix varies, depending upon who makes it, but the most common ingredients are basil, bay leaf, lavender, marjoram, orange peel, rosemary and thyme. Thyme usually takes the lead role. Do yourself a favor and track some down; it quickly elevates everything from roasted chicken to last-minute sauces. We buy a really good version at The Spice House.

Related post: Mussels in Tarragon Cream Sauce.

Terry Boyd blogs at Blue Kitchen.

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