Last weekend, we had 13 friends over for moules-frites. This — plus a big green salad, some crusty baguettes and more white wine than seems conscionable — is my favorite dinner party menu. It makes the easiest, surprisingly budget-conscious meal and might, if you play your cards right, make you feel ever-so-slightly like you’re on vacation somewhere European and full of sailor-types. Okay, maybe that’s pushing things but let’s run with it. I forgot to add, however that it’s best for 6 people, 8 at most. As soon as the mussels exceed the volume of your largest pot or the fries surpass the one large tray that fits in your oven (plus you have a salad you really only want to toss at the last minute), basically everything needing to be cooked à la minute, you’re going to have to hustle. I am constitutionally incapable of hustling; we ate dinner at 10.
I usually make my oven fries, but I decided that for a crowd it would be easier to let a fryer do the work and borrowed one from a friend (who is married to another friend who’s obsessed with fried chicken, I mean, I’m sure it’s just coincidence). Loosely following J. Kenji López-Alt’s directions, I prepped 7 pounds of potatoes the day before but as I stuck them in the freezer overnight, I realized that this was going to allot each person approximately 16 fries. Look, I know we all like to believe that we eat only 16 fries when we go out and that’s totally fine, but I think we can all agree that we are going to be happiest if person who makes your fries knows better and cooks accordingly.