Boy, am I glad I decided to make this when I went to the store the other day. My allergies have been going bonkers lately (hello, spring!) and I took two extra strength excedrin today for a headache, on an empty stomach. Cue the shakes. Nothing like a little steak and carbs to cure all that ails!
Steak and fries are two deceptive dishes. Seemingly simple, they are two of the most often screwed up foods by home cooks, and even some restaurant cooks. Let’s talk about fries first. What you want is a nice, golden brown, crisp fry with a soft inside. There are as many fry recipes as there are restaurants that serve them. I will stick with the basic tips here:
French Fries (Frites)
1) Start with an Idaho potato or russet. Starchy potatoes work better for frying than waxy varieties, and give you more fries per potato.
2) Peel the potato, and then cut into 1/4 inch sticks. If you have a really long potato, cut them in half so they aren’t too long as the fries are more likely to break in half if they are too lengthy.
3) Soak the fries in cold water for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Soaking pulls some of the starch away from the potato and makes them fry better. Some people will say eight hours, but I dunno, I think that’s more likely to wick away almost all of the starch from the outside of the fry. After they are done soaking, dry them thoroughly. If they are wet, the oil is going to pop and not get as close to the potato.
4) Heat your oil (canola, vegetable, sunflower, or peanut all work) up to 300 F. Use a candy thermometer clipped to a wide bottomed pot to monitor your heat. Working in batches, cook the fries for about 2 minutes and then remove to a tray. Let them cool completely. This blanches the fry, cooking the inside without crisping the outside.
5) Raise the heat to about 375 or 400 F. Again, working in batches, fry until golden brown and crispy on the outside, about 3 to 5 minutes per batch. Remove to a lined tray, and sprinkle with kosher salt or fleur de sel quickly. The salt will pull away excess oil and season the fries. Serve within 8 minutes, and keep warm in the oven if you need to!
Now let’s discuss steak! I live in an apartment, so I don’t have the luxury of an outdoor grill. I do have what is, in my opinion, the best grill pan on the market. It’s enameled cast iron, with deep grooves and the capacity to be used on the cooktop, in the oven, or even on your grill. Love it. But the tips I will give you here really apply to both indoor or outdoor grilling.
If you get a good steak, like a tenderloin (filet mignon), porterhouse, New York strip, sirloin, etc, you don’t need to do anything to the exterior except the following:
1) Bring it to room temperature before grilling.
2) Sprinkle with salt and pepper right before you put it on the heat.
That’s it. If you want to finish it with a little herbed butter, go for it, but if you choose a steak with good marbling and thickness, nothing more is needed.
Get your grill or grill pan good and hot. Place the steak on the heat and let cook about 5 minutes, then turn 90 degrees for the grill marks. Cook another few minutes then flip over and repeat. Don’t press down on the steak while it’s cooking with a spatula or anything. No need. Here’s where things get preferential. I like my steak medium, or about 140 inside. So, using a meat thermometer, I look for about 135 F and then take it off the heat. THEN I LEAVE IT ALONE. Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT cut into your steak right away. All the juices will pour out, and you’ll be left with a leather shoe for dinner. So let it rest about 5 to 7 minutes. Then serve it. As the steak rests, the juices sort of settle out and it actually continues to cook a little bit, for me that final 5 degrees to get to 140. Then it’s perfect!
Hopefully this is clear and helps with your steak and fry cookery! It’s a great dinner to make and if you get it right can really impress. Bon appetit!