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This Belgian classic requires your attention. (Photo: fred_v on Flickr.)

Moules frites is a serious classic in Belgian and French bistros, and for good reason: Mussels and crispy fries go together like chicken and grits, spaghetti and meatballs, ebony and ivory — well, you get the idea.

The moules part — the mussels — are easy to make. The key is to clean these bivalves thoroughly. Plunge them in cool water and then remove the beards — those stringy, fuzzy bits attached to the shells — then run under cool water for good measure. Nothing ruins a big bowl o’ mussels faster than the crunch of grit between your teeth.

If you don’t have a fryer, don’t despair; the main point of frites here is to dip in the briny, beer-soaked juices of the moules, so our baked French fries recipe should do the trick. Sopping up can get especially tasty if you trick out your mussels with bacon!