Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Steak Frites or Steak and Freets

To me, Sunday night always feels like a great night for a big homey, hearty meal. With plenty of time to plan and cook during the day, it gives a little more time to make something you might not normally have time for. This Sunday it was Steak Frites. We decided to use up the chuck steak included in this month's CSA share and make some real Frenchy type Frites. FREEEETS. Sorry, I haven't been able to stop saying it since Sunday.

We used a Cook's Illustrated method to make the fries (sounds so awful to call them fries) and winged it on the steak. Elaine cut some Yukon gold potatoes into planks and instead of heating the oil first, she put the fries into the cold oil and let everything come to a boil together. Cook's tested this and claims that the potatoes actually absorb less oil. Healthy fries, my dream come true! Well, not exactly but we can pretend every once in a while. Once the potatoes come to a boil, we let them boil along for 15 minutes and then stirred them to loosen any from the bottom of the pot (preferably a Dutch oven). We cooked them for 5-10 minutes more until golden, drained on paper towels and sprinkled with salt immediately.

Mushrooms - No, not that kind
In the meantime, I sauteed mushrooms. I'm sure you all know that to properly sautee a
mushroom, you must never introduce liquid into the situation. Clean your mushies with a paper towel only, no water! I sliced them, heated a pan until screaming hot, added olive oil and tossed in the mushrooms. Do you know what you do then to attain a perfectly golden brown, nutty and delicious mushroom? Do you? You do nothing. You add salt and pepper and you do not touch. Not until they are beautifully caramely brown on one side. Then you can flip, but do not stir. I guarantee you will have perfect mushrooms every time.

After removing the mushrooms from the pan, I added my salt and peppered steak to a little more olive oil and butter in the same pan. Seared on high heat for about 4 minutes and again, didn't touch. Flipped once, 4 minutes on the other side and presto, beautiful medium rare steak. I removed the steak and covered with foil to rest - very important step to allow all the juiced to run back into the meat - cut it without doing this and you will have a lot of meat juice on your cutting board and a very tough piece of meat.

The sauce was sort of an after thought, I had originally intended to just top the steak with the mushrooms, but then this beautiful sauce just materialized before us. I sauteed a shallot and some garlic in the same pan that I used for the steak and mushrooms (with a little extra butter, for flavor). Then Elaine said, "do you want some brandy?" and I said "why yes, yes I do." We added the brandy in stages but I think it ended up begin about 1/2 - 3/4 cup. This is traditional for Steak au Poivre sauce so my mind automatically went to adding cream, which we didn't have. But we did have sour cream, so that went in, probably 1/4 - 1/2 cup along with some salt, all over medium high head until everything had meshed together to become a delicious, mushroomy, cream batch of loveliness.

We sliced the steak and served the mushroom sauce over top, with the magical crispy frites on the side, along with roasted broccoli and a lovely salad. Great beginning to the week. Hope its a good one for all of you as well!


  1. Gerat job, Jenean and great writing, too. Getting a steak tmw. Hadn't planned on mushrooms, but now they're in. Have to talk to Mom about the 'taters.

  2. Yum! Again - yum! The description of cooking the mushrooms just makes me salivate. I must confess, though, that I can't bring myself to fry potatoes at home. What do you do with the oil afterwards?! Michael makes us great oven fries as a substitute - thick potato wedges with crisp, salty exterior, and soft crumbly interior.

  3. Even as a vegetarian, that last photo is muy romantico.

    Your freets look so crispy. We usually do oven fries - nuking them first for a few minutes to get some of the moisture out (not muy romantico, I know), then tossing them with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs and baking them til they're nice and crispy. They are very tasty...but definitely not so golden.

  4. They did turn out amazingly golden crispy and romantico, and really very little labor. You're both right that oven fries are better as far as oil use and hassle goes - I have a recipe I like for that which instead of nuking has you soak the potato wedges in hot water for ten minutes. I'll have to try the nuking, that saves the step of drying them off after their bath!

    Judith - the recipe only calls for 6 cups of oil (just enough to cover basically), which is still annoying to get rid of, but a little better than it could be. The first use of the oil I usually cool it down and pour it back in the bottle to use again... you can't do that too many times though (or at all depending on what you've fried in it) - it starts to taste bad. eventually i pour it in a paper milk or juice carton and throw it away... not a perfect system.