Appetite For Instruction: Moules Frites-Part 2

Demonstrated by Brian Luscher and Karin Porter of The Grape

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Despite their reputation as the ultimate fast food, truly great French fries actually take some time. And they're worth it. Anyone who's gummed a gooey stick of the typical Dallas restaurant potato mush could tell you that. Thing is, while aficionados know a perfect fry when they taste it--crisp, greaseless and well-seasoned exterior encasing near-creamy flesh within--most of us have no clue as to how to make them for ourselves. Until now.

Last week, Brian Luscher of The Grape showed us the secret to steaming tender, intensely-flavored mussels at home. Today, we'll round out those moules with some frites, or French fries. But let's call 'em frites, because Brian's two-step European bistro-style fries have nothing in common with those floppy things served around here. His Chef de Cuisine, Karin Porter, will also demonstrate some wicked good aioli so you can make like Jules in Amsterdam when you eat 'em.

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Step 1: For the fries, scrub and slice russet potatoes into 3/8-inch julienne. You could go thicker or thinner, but Chef Luscher believes this is the ideal size for a perfect fry. Also, he doesn't remove the peels, so we don't think you should either. Plan on 1-2 potatoes per person, depending on size.

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Step 2: Rinse sliced potatoes until the water runs clear. Soak in cold water in the refrigerator several hours to overnight. According to the chef, this step pulls out some of the potatoes' starch and is the secret a crispier fry.

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Step 3: Drain potatoes and pat dry with a clean towel. Fry at 300° for 6 minutes (no longer!) in vegetable oil. Use the gauge on your fryer or a cooking thermometer to be sure your oil is at the right temperature.

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Step 4: Remove fries to a cookie sheet and cool. Refrigerate until cold and hold in the fridge until you're ready for Step 5. At this point, the fries will hold for up to 3 days. This is also the point in the recipe where you would begin the mussels, if you were going all-out with Moules Frites.

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Step 5: Fry the fries again at 350°, this time until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Frying twice--once low, once high--assures the aforementioned tender interior and crisp exterior; there is no better way to cook a fry. Drain on paper towels and toss with salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

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Step 6: For the aioli, combine 2 egg yolks, 6 cloves of garlic and 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor or blender. With machine running, drizzle in 1 cup vegetable oil slowly and blend until thick and creamy.

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Step 7: Add ½ tsp. cold water and salt and pepper to taste and blend until combined. Any leftover aioli will last up to one week in the fridge. But we doubt you'll have leftovers. See that picture? They taste even better than they look.

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