OK, are you ready for the absolutely most absurd, yet amazingly delicious recipe makeover ever? Once again, I have Brian to thank for the idea. And for helping me to think through and test this one.
So here’s how the initial conversation went…
Brian: Have you ever had that mussel dish? Mussels in white wine sauce over fries?
Me: Moules Frites?
Brian: Yeah. I want that. But it needs to be low carb and no seafood. Maybe pork meatballs. With cream. And gruyere.
Me: (Totally used to these departures from culinary reason and sanity by now) That sounds amazing! Shallots, wine, cream, cheese, what could be bad? Maybe I’ll stuff the meatballs with cheese curds like I did last week. What should we use instead of potatoes?
And thus, Unmoules Unfrites was conceived. And the only snag was that Bob had to go to two different stores to find a rutabaga. He knew this one was going to be genius, so he persisted until the large waxy orb was safely in the reusable shopping bag.
1 ½ pounds ground pork (preferably organic and pasture raised)
4 oz cheese curd*
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely grated parm
½ tsp cayenne
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp salt
*Feel free to use a different cheese. Block mozzarella or fontina, anything creamy but firm.
1 large shallot, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 tbs pork fat or olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup heavy cream or crème fraiche
½ cup chicken or pork stock
salt and pepper, to taste
4 oz aged gruyere, grated
1 large rutabaga, peeled, cut into thick “fingers”
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375°. Line two sheet pans with parchment.
Mix all “moules” (meatballs) ingredients except cheese curd in a large bowl. I use a stand mixer, but feel free to use your hands or a big wooden spoon. Test seasoning by microwaving a bit on a small plate until cooked through. Don’t worry if the texture is rubbery, you’re just making sure there’s enough salt. If not add some. Meatballs that aren’t salty enough are a crime against balls.
Form meatballs using about 2 tbs. meat mixture (I use a portion scoop to get them all the same size). Poke a hole in each and insert a ½ inch chunk of cheese curd or mozz, then pinch to enclose the cheese. Place meatballs on prepared sheet. Roast for 20 minutes or until they just begin to brown.
Meanwhile, toss the “frites,” with oil, sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes or until they are browned and tender.
While the balls and rutabagas roast, start the sauce in a largish pot. Sauté the onion and shallot over medium heat in the fat oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add wine, cream and stock, and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
When the meatballs come out of the oven, add them and any pan drippings to the sauce. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes and transfer to an oven safe baking dish big enough to hold all the balls snuggled in a single layer. Sprinkle with gruyere. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving over “frites.”