What is there to say about steak frites? If you’re lucky enough to live near a good bistro, you’ve probably never considered making this classic dish at home. If you don’t live near a good bistro, you’ve also probably never considered making steak frites at home. Here’s the thing. Restaurants want us to believe that we’re better off leaving it to the pros. They want to get into our minds, break our spirits, and….sorry. [takes a deep breath] Point is: It really isn’t hard to pull off killer steak frites at home if you heed a few guidelines. First, start by selecting a good cut. Everyone’s favorite is ribeye, and justifiably so, but hanger steak is a deeply flavorful and affordable alternative. Second, season the steak simply with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper; no need for “steak seasoning” and marinades. Third, cook with a very hot and ideally heavy skillet. Nothing is worse than a steak that isn’t seared properly, so don’t be timid with high heat and a bit of smoke. Finally, learn to avoid dry steaks by touch; softer steaks are closer to rare. As you’ll see, even these crispy French fries with herbs are surprisingly straightforward. Moral of the story? YES WE CAN.
STEAK with MUSTARD BUTTER & FRENCH FRIES
(recipe for two adapted from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen)
2 (8-ounce) steaks, ribeye or hanger
1/2 tsp of sea salt (smoked if you have it)
1/2 tsp of chipotle chile powder (or Aleppo pepper)
freshly cracked black pepper
clarified butter (or vegetable oil)
for the mustard butter:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp.
2 tsp. mustard powder
2 tsp. good Dijon mustard
for the french fries:
3 large Yukon gold potatoes
fresh thyme, rosemary & sage
canola oil for frying
Pat the steaks dry and rub them with the salt and chipotle powder. Chill for an hour. Make the mustard by mashing the butter with the mustard powder and Dijon. Form into two mounds and chill on a plate. In a large cast-iron pot, heat about 3 inches of canola oil for your french fries. Slice the potatoes length-wise. Once the oil is hot (test with one fry; it should bubble immediately), add the potatoes in batches. Fry them until golden brown and use a mesh strainer to transfer them to a wire rack. Now heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the clarified butter. Cook the steaks 5-6 minutes on each side for a rare steak, turning them over once (exact time will vary depending on steak’s thickness and your stove; you want a cooked steak that is still soft when you press it with your fingers). Remove the steaks from the pan and let rest. Finish the fries by frying them once more in the oil with fresh herbs for just a minute or two. Remove, drain well (on a paper towel or wire rack), and toss with sea salt. Serve the steak with a mound of mustard butter, freshly cracked pepper, and a heap of fries.