The next time you roll up to an order board, crank down your window and sniff, “Yes, thank you. I’d like frites with that.”

It wasn’t so long ago that ketchup was America’s singular acceptable accompaniment to the beloved French fry. We turned up our noses when the Dutch proffered mayonnaise. We rolled our eyes when Eastern Europeans sprinkled goat cheese on top. Reluctantly, we sometimes sprinkle malt vinegar on our fish n’ chips but, to purists, even that is an assault on our tradition. But let’s be fair. After all, they’re not called American fries.

No, the classic frite is a Belgian affair (fried twice for lasting crispness, thank you). Across much of Europe, frietkots—Flemish Belgian for fry shacks—are as prolific as golden arches are in the U.S. Now, with a nod to our French-speaking friends, our frites are turning up in places where napkins are cloth and you order from a table, like Can Can Brasserie in Richmond or Mon Ami Gabi in Reston.

You won’t see lumpy chili or glassine Velveeta puddling on top. Au contraire, frites are sidling up to sirloins and bowls of mussels just waiting for a swipe of bearnaise or a plunge into a buttery wine broth.

Alas, no longer the hallmark of the ballpark or the bowling alley, frites have matured. So stop hiding the takeout trash. Be proud. And the next time you roll up to an order board, crank down your window and sniff, “Yes, thank you. I’d like frites with that.”


6 large Idaho russet potatoes, peeled
1 ½ quarts canola oil

Cut potatoes into ¼-inch slices, then cut into strips. Soak in cold water until ready to fry. Remove and let dry completely on paper towels. Heat oil to 325 degrees. To avoid overcrowding, fry in batches 2-3 minutes until brown. Drain well. Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees and repeat; it is important not to guess at oil temperature.

Remove from oil and drain well. Salt to taste. Serve immediately for optimum crispness.

Serves 4

For classic steak frites, serve with entrecôte, New York strip or sirloin, or your favorite cut of grilled steak.

Mussels for Moules Frites

Safety rule: If any mussel shells are open before cooking, toss them out. Any that remain closed after cooking should also be tossed out.

1     tablespoon olive oil
1     tablespoon butter
2     small shallots, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ pounds mussels
8 ounces chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat a large pot to medium temperature and add olive oil and butter. Once butter has melted, add shallots, and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until the shallots have softened, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add wine, chicken broth and mussels. Cover and steam until all mussels open, but no more than 10 minutes. Add parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2

Fish n’ Chips

For beer batter:
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg, separated
salt to taste

Mix yolk with beer and flour and season with salt. Whisk egg white until stiff, then fold into beer batter.

For curry sauce:
1 small onion, medium diced
1 Granny Smith apple, medium diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon tomato paste
12 ounces chicken stock
2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Sauté onion and apple in oil until soft. Add curry powder and tomato paste and mix well. Add flour and mix, then add chicken stock. Simmer until thickened, 15-20 minutes. Strain. Season to taste.

Mushy Peas

1 pound bag frozen peas
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped

Cook peas until tender. Drain. Add butter, salt, yogurt, pepper and mint. Mash all together and serve alongside fish n’ chips.

Dipping Sauces for Pommes Frites

Sriracha Mayonnaise:
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon lime juice

Mix well.

Honey Mustard:
¼ cup spicy brown mustard
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Mix well.

Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise:
1 head of garlic
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Cut off top of garlic head to expose cloves and place on aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and seal in foil. Roast one hour at 350 degrees. Cool. Then squeeze cloves into mayonnaise and mix well.

Pesto Mayonnaise:

2 cups packed fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup pecorino romano, grated

In food processor, blend basil, garlic and pine nuts to a coarse paste. Add ½ cup oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add cheese and remainder of oil.

½ cup mayonnaise
2-3 tablespoons pesto

Mix pesto and mayonnaise.

¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced shallot
¼ teaspoon crushed peppercorns
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
salt to taste
3 egg yolks
½ cup hot melted butter
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Reduce vinegar, wine, shallots and pepper down to about two tablespoons over medium heat. Strain. Whisk yolks and reduction in a bowl over simmering water until thick. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in butter until it is completely absorbed. Season with salt to taste, and add lemon juice and tarragon.

This article originally appeared on June 7, 2013.

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