Steak Frites

From Season 11: Steak Frites

Why this recipe works:

Too often, steak frites in American restaurants miss the mark. The fries are usually too soggy and the steak just isnít as flavorful as it should be. We wanted to re-create the steak frites of ...(more)

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A good rendition of this bistro standard is hard to find in American restaurants. Short of flying to Paris, how could we reliably enjoy this French classic?

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Serves 4

Make sure to dry the potatoes well before tossing them with the cornstarch. For safety, use a Dutch oven with a capacity of at least 7 quarts. Use refined peanut oil (such as Planters) to fry the potatoes, not toasted peanut oil. A 12-inch skillet is essential for cooking four steaks at once. The recipe can be prepared through step 4 up to 2 hours in advance; turn off the heat under the oil, turning the heat back to medium when you start step 6. The ingredients can be halved to serve two-keep the oil amount the same and forgo blanching and frying the potatoes in batches. If you prefer not to fry, follow our recipe for Oven Fries, (see related recipe).

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large), scrubbed, sides squared off and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch fries (see illustration below)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 quarts peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 boneless strip or rib-eye steaks (1 pound each), cut in half (see photo below)
  •   Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Herb Butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
  • 1/2 medium shallot , minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 clove garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions

         1. Rinse cut potatoes in large bowl under cold running water until water turns clear. Cover with cold water and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

         2. Pour off water, spread potatoes onto kitchen towels, and thoroughly dry. Transfer potatoes to large bowl and toss with cornstarch until evenly coated. Transfer potatoes to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and let rest until fine white coating forms, about 20 minutes.

         3. Meanwhile, in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven fitted with clip-on-the-pot candy thermometer, heat peanut oil over medium heat to 325 degrees.

         4. Add half of potatoes, a handful at a time, to hot oil and increase heat to high. Fry, stirring with mesh spider or large-hole slotted spoon, until potatoes start to turn from white to blond, 4 to 5 minutes. (Oil temperature will drop about 75 degrees during this frying.) Transfer fries to thick paper bag or paper towels. Return oil to 325 degrees and repeat with remaining potatoes. Reduce heat to medium and let fries cool while cooking steaks, at least 10 minutes.

         5. Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking.

Meanwhile, season steaks with salt and pepper. Lay steaks in pan, leaving 1/4 inch between them. Cook, not moving steaks, until well browned, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks and continue to cook until instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 120 degrees for rare to medium-rare, 3 to 7 minutes. Transfer steaks to large plate, top with butter, and tent loosely with foil; let rest while finishing fries.

         6. Increase heat under Dutch oven to high and heat oil to 375 degrees. Add half of fries, a handful at a time, and fry until golden brown and puffed, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to thick paper bag or paper towels. Return oil to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining fries. Season fries with salt and serve immediately with steaks.

         7. For Herb Butter: Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.

Technique

         Recipe Shorthand: Steak Frites

Successful steak frites requires some careful timing. The first four steps can be completed up to 2 hours before dinner. Once you start cooking the steaks, you need to work quickly to get the steak and fries on the table.

1. Rinse cut potatoes.

2. Toss potatoes with cornstarch.

3. Air-dry potatoes.

4. Blanch potatoes, in two batches, in 325-degree oil; let cool.

5. Cook steaks.

6. Finish fries, in two batches, in 375-degree oil.

Technique

         Squaring the Spud

The best way to uniformly cut fries is to start by trimming a thin slice from each side of the potato. Once the potato is "squared," you can slice it into 1/4-inch planks and then cut each plank into 1/4-inch fries.

Technique

         One Steak Becomes Two

In order to have four steaks that fit in a skillet at the same time, it is necessary to buy two 1-pound steaks and cut them in half according to their thickness. If your steaks are 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 inches thick, cut them in half vertically into small, thick steaks. If your steaks are thicker than 1 3/4 inches, cut them in half horizontally into two thinner steaks.

Thin Steak: Cut in half vertically.

Thick Steak: Cut in half horizontally.