Cooking Through A Cookbook

Vermouth Mussels with Tarragon Oven Fries Review

Recipe 52 from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

WW Note: So I’m calculating this to be 14 points if you split between 2 people or 7 points if you make it split 4 ways. You might be able to sub out the butter and save your points there if you wanted to try using I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. It won’t be as delicious a sauce but it might be okay with you if you are a fan of mussels.


This recipe was a whole lot of learning for me. I am not a fan of clams or oysters and I’ve never tried mussels so I wasn’t sure what I was signing up for.

I was also a newbie with Vermouth having never tasted it or cooked with it. I did a little research and was surprised to realize it’s a wine and it is fortified with herbs and tree bark (wormwood…which is also in absinthe…) and the taste is surprisingly sweet. I actually kind of like it for sipping.

I also learned about green potatoes. I pulled out my bag of potatoes and saw they were growing roots and turning green. Some where in the back of my brain I remember reading something when I was pregnant about not eating green potatoes. I don’t think I ever looked up why but decided to do so today.

Here’s what I learned…

Potatoes turn green when exposed to light and the green we see is chlorophyll but the same process a potato goes through to create chlorophyll, also produces solanine which is a poisonous compound that is present in green potatoes and other related plants.

The more you know…

Ugh, why is that not common knowledge?! I feel like that is something I should have known! I asked my husband if he knew not to eat green potatoes and he said, “Yeah…because they are poisonous.” 🤦‍♀️🤯👌 I feel dumb. But I’m passing along that nugget of info to anyone else who may not be aware either!

Okay…the other new ingredient for me was tarragon. I had a hard time shopping for this recipe between the mussels and tarragon. The only store I found Tarragon in was Whole Foods, who also came to the rescue for the mussels though not as fresh as those in their homes/shells.

I learned that tarragon is more of an herb found in French cuisine which sort of makes sense why I don’t find it as easily since the French food scene is probably not as big of a deal here as it is in other places. It’s in the sunflower family and supposedly has anise flavors which is probably why I didn’t care for it too much.

A lot of learning for one recipe.

This recipe feels like the beginning of hard dishes…it feels like I’ve gotten to the chapter in a Math textbook where you realize the review from the previous year is over and now it’s time to actual learn new math. Crap.

The most fun part of this recipe by far was making the homemade French fries. In all my years I don’t think I’ve ever tried homemade French fries. This was a great excuse to try it out.

Deb talks a lot about the importance of a good fry being double fried. Yet these fries are baked. She said she played around with the recipe a lot and learned that boiling them is like frying them once and baking them as light frying them twice. That 2nd “fry” in the oven is where they get crispy.

Her instructions are thorough so there’s really no messing them up. I think I may have over oiled the pan which was no doubt the reason they were on the oilier side. But they were still really delicious especially dipped in the leftover broth from the mussels.

I have to say that the look of the mussels thoroughly grossed me out. I wasn’t convinced I was gonna like them at all and basically tried not to look at it when I put it in my mouth.

I’m happy to say that they surprised me in their flavor…in a good way. Now, I like shrimp and lobster so the texture didn’t throw me off too much. If shrimp and lobster aren’t your thing because of texture I’m pretty sure mussels aren’t gonna change your mind about crustaceans.

The butter and vermouth and tarragon went really nice together, not overpowering but a nice compliment to the mussels.

I am proud of myself for trying them and in the end they were nothing to be scared of. I probably won’t make them again, but don’t let that discourage you if you are a mussel lover :)

Here are a few sites that will help you with the recipe and a 2nd way to do the mussels from Deb, herself:

In the Kitchen with Kath

Journal Sentinal

Smitten Kitchen

Happy mussel making everyone!

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