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Moules Frites (Mussels in White Wine and Pancetta)

Moules Frites, can you name a better combo? Here I go again throwing fancy phrases at you. Moules Frites is just the French way of saying mussels and fries. Now there are many iterations of this dish such as Moules marinière (marinara sauce) or a Moules à la crème (cream sauce). In my option the best by far is mussels in a white wine and garlic broth. Here, I added an additional layer of pancetta which gives the broth an extra layer of dimension, and the mussels some extra texture and salt as you bite into a piece of crispy pancetta.

Whenever I think of mussels I can’t help but think of all the restaurants in New York City I used to visit for a “Mussel Monday” special. For a fixed price, these restaurants would serve all you can eat mussels and trust me with the number of mussels I eat a restaurant could go belly up. While unlimited mussels were a great idea often times they lacked depth in flavor. These moules frites with pancetta take 20 minutes and beats out most restaurant’s mussels.

bag of mussels

I just bought mussels, what do I need to know? How do I clean them?

Mussels should only be bought a day ahead MAX, but best same day. Once you bring them home take them out of the bag so they can breathe and store them in the fridge. Inspect the mussels. Dispose of any with cracked shells or open ones that don’t close back up.

When you are ready to clean them soak them in fresh water for 10 minutes so they can release any sand or dirt. Now comes the tedious part. One by one clean the outside of the mussels by running them under cold water, and rubbing the shell gently. Inspect the sides of the mussel for the “beard” (stringy hair popping out from the side). To remove pull and yank on the beard towards the bottom corner and it should come out. You may get the occasional one that is difficult to remove, be aggressive it won’t kill them.

pot of cooked mussels in white wine and pancetta.

What You’ll Need

  • Mussels – Buy fresh, and make them the same day.
  • White Wine – Best tip of advice is cook with wine you would drink, but also let’s be real there will be extra wine, and you are going to want a glass. Buy a dry, more acidic wine for this dish ie. Pinot Grigio.
  • Pancetta – This is what makes these mussels great. Buy the prepackaged cubed pancetta that is often found in the cheese section. The fat from the pancetta is the base to the sauce, and the salty crispy pancetta pieces makes this dish pop with every bite.
  • Garlic
  • Onion – Yellow or white.
  • Broth I used chicken, but feel free to use vegetable.
  • Butter
  • Fries Do yourself a favor, don’t make these from scratch. This is meant to be an easy dish. Buy your favorite frozen fries and take them up a notch with freshly shaved parmesan and parsley.
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Parsley
  • Large Dutch Oven – You need a deep pot for this dish, deep enough to hold the mussels with the lid on. My favorite HERE.
bowl of moules frites

Yes, thats right, dive right in


Moules Frites in White Wine with Pancetta

Print Recipe
Mussels steamed in a white wine, garlic, and pancetta sauce.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine French
Keyword Fries, Mussels, Seafood
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings 2 people


  • Dutch Oven or Deep Pot



  • 2 lb Mussels fresh
  • 4 oz Pancetta pre-packaged, cubed
  • 6 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1/2 Onion white or yellow, diced
  • 2 tsp Red Chili Flakes
  • 1 cup White Wine Pino Grigio
  • 1 cup Broth chicken or vegetable
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil


  • Frozen Fries shoe string
  • 2 tbsp Parsley finely chopped
  • Parmesan Cheese


  • In a large pot over medium-low heat add olive oil and pancetta. Brown pancetta for 5 minutes or until fat has rendered down and most pieces have crisped up. Remove from the pot and set aside for later.
  • In the pancetta fat add garlic and onions and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Onions and garlic should not brown, if they start to turn down the heat.
  • Deglaze the pan with white wine and cook off for 3 minutes scraping the bottom of the pot to release any bits.
  • Add broth and 2 tbsp of butter.
  • Add mussels, close the lid and cook for 5-7 minutes or when all the mussels have opened up. gently mix them every few minutes.
  • While you are preparing the broth, toss the frozen fries in olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Prepare as per instructions. Toss in parsley and parmesan cheese.
  • Sprinkle pancetta over served mussels with fries.


  • If you do not like a little heat reduce the amount of chili flakes or remove them completely.


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