The advantage of the French school of thought on steak is obviously simple:  thinner cuts cooked rare.  The pan must be piping hot and stay that way throught cooking.  The exception to the thin French steaks is cote de boeuf.  Best cooked on a charcoal grill and rested 10 minutes, sliced in rectangular thin slices.

The trick with the real french fries is wiping the excess starch from the freshly cut fries and deep-frying them twice, draining and increasing the temperature between bubbling baths.

This pan-fried steak recipe adapted from Bistros and Brasseries: Recipes and Reflections on Classic Cafe Cooking (The Culinary Institute of America Dining Series) is the real icon of bistro and brasserie menus.  While meat and fried potatoes are also an American icon, this recipe will have you forever giving up on any other steak and fries recipes, as the buttery goodness of the steak cooking in a seasoned cast-iron skillet takes the meat to a new level and the double cooking of the fries makes them unparalleled.  Photo link to the book is below where you can purchase it from amazon.com, which we give 5 starts to the recipes you’ll discover inside.

Pommes Frites

from Richard Blais’ Try This at Home

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large russet (baking) potatoes, peeled
  • About 3 cups peanut oil
  • About 1 1/2 cups melted lard or vegetable oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  •  A parmesan cheese wedge for shaving
  • Sri-Rancha
PREPARATION

Halve the potatoes lengthwise.  Lay them flat side down on the cutting board and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices, then stack the slices a few at a time and cut into 1/4-inch thick batons. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with water. Let soak for at least 4 hours, or up to 6 hours, at room temperature to remove excess starch.

Fill a large heavy pot with the peanut oil and lard; the oil should be at least 3 inches deep.  Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pot and heat the oil over medium-high heat to 230F.

Meanwhile, drain the potatoes and pat them very dry with paper towels. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Working in batches, fry the potatoes until soft and limp but not brown, about 5 minutes. Spread them out in a single layer on the lined baking sheet and freeze until frozen hard, about 1 hour. Set the pot of oil aside.

When the fries are frozen, reheat the oil to 350F. Working in batches and adjusting the heat to maintain the oil temperature, fry the potatoes until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a large paper-towel-lined bowl and toss with salt while still warm. Once all the potatoes are fried, toss them with parsley, dill, rosemary, lemon zest and more salt until evenly seasoned.

Transfer the fries to a serving platter and, using a vegetable peeler, shave thin strips of Parmesan over the top.  Serve warm with the Sri-Rancha for dipping.

Sri-Rancha

from Try This at Home

  • 2 cups store-bought ranch dressing
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha hot Sauce
PREPARATION

Put the ranch dressing into a small bowl, add the lemon juice and Sriracha. Whisk until fully incorporated. Serve with wings for dipping, but this is also great with fries or most anything else you’d use ranch dressing for dipping in.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Bistros and Brasseries: Recipes and Reflections on Classic Cafe Cooking (The Culinary Institute of America Dining Series)

INGREDIENTS FOR THE STEAKS

  • 4-6 beef steaks, cut from flap meat
  • French sea salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 T. salted butter, divided use
  • 1 t. peanut oil
  • 1/2 c. beef stock

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the pommes frites as directed up through the blanching step.  hold at room temperature until you are ready to prepare the steaks.

Remove the fat from the sides of the steaks.  heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron pan on high until it’s hot but not smoking.  Season the steaks with salt and pepper.  Put them in the pan and there should be quite a bit of smoke filling your kitchen at this point, it’s part of the key to getting a good sear on the steak.  After the first side is browned, about 1 minute, turn steaks over and turn down the heat to medium.  Add the peanut oil and just 2 T. of the butter.  The oil keeps the butter from burning as easily.

Back to the fries, heat the oil in the fryer up to 360F and cook the blanched fries in batches until they are crisp and golden.  Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Keep them warm on a sheet in a 200F oven.

When the juice seeps to the surface of the steaks after 2 minutes or so, remove from pan and keep tented with foil on a warm plate.  They be medium-rare or à point.  Turn heat to low under the saute pan and deglaze with stock, scraping up the browned bits.  Reduce liquid by half, about 4 minutes.  Add juices accumulated on the plate from the steaks.  Whisk in the remaining 2 T. of butter and pour the resulting sauce over the steaks and each guest gets a pile of fries next to each steak.  Voila.