Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Steak Frites (and a Missoni manicure)

America's Test Kitchen is a pretty amazing company, and their tweets lately regarding job openings are making me want to move to Massachusetts and test-cook for a living.  For now, I will just real-cook at home in Portland using their pre-tested recipes.

Steak frites is another recipe, like the Ultimate Chili, I spotted in a Cooks Illustrated magazine and have wanted to cook for a long time, but I have been afraid of frying.  After my total success with fried pickles and milanesas, I decided to give frying potatoes a try.

I actually combined two recipes for this recipe, Cook's Country Char-Grilled Steaks and America's Test Kitchen Steak Frites.  I didn't grill the steak, I pan fried it, but I liked the recipe's claim that my steak would have restaurant quality crust.  It did!

Steak frites should really be made with rib-eyes, but I only had T-bones left, so I made a T-bone.  The French would put their noses up to this, but I think the T-bone worked JUST FINE with the meal.

Also, I gave myself a Missoni inspired manicure over the weekend. Adiel over at It's because I think too much recently did a Kate Spade inspired manicure.  As I was browsing through In Style's September issue, I saw the Kate Spade ad that inspired Adiel, and just a few pages later was the Missoni for Target ad.  I thought, brilliant!  A Missoni manicure!  So I texted Santina to tell her about my soon to be Missoni-ed finger nails, and she replies, Ya, Adiel's are rad.  Adiel's?  That bitch stole my idea by thinking of it AND executing it before I could!  You can see my manicure below in the potato cutting picture.

Since this is a cooking blog, I will get back to talking about food now.

1 Rib-eye steak
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

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
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 quarts peanut oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Herb Butter: 
(This is for 4 steaks, so change the quantity depending on how many steaks you are making)

tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
1 clove garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Combine salt and cornstarch. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and rub with salt mixture. Arrange on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and freeze until steaks are firm and dry to touch, at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

2. Square the sides off the potatoes and cut lengthwise into quarter-inch by quarter-inch fries, like this:

This picture is included purely to show you my Missoni inspired manicure. The ring I am wearing is from BCBG. I don't really wear rings when I cook, but the spice shelf above my sink and cutting island holds many rings that I have taken off so that I won't get them wet and dirty while I cook. Just before I took the picture, I chose this snake ring off the shelf to make it look like I am well accessorized while I cook.

The above is the "squared off" potato.  Squaring it off makes it easy to cut the potato into quarter-inch by quarter-inch fries.

3.  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.

4. 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.

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

6. 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.

7. Make herb butter by combining all ingredients in a bowl.

8. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lay steaks in pan, leaving at least 1/4 inch between them. Cover skillet with lid, if you have one, otherwise cover with foil.  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.

9. 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.

As you can see in the picture at the top of the post, my fries were not beautifully puffed and golden brown like they are supposed to be.  They were pretty tasty though.  And the steak was perfection.

Bon appetit.


  1. You just taught me how to make fries. When I weigh 7,000 pounds I will blame you.

    You make me giggle, as usual. I love the bit about choosing the ring to look accessorized whilst cooking. And the nails are pretty awesome.

    Are we going to have to add "Empress of Nail Painting" to "Shakespeare of Food Writing"? Good resume builder, this blog.

  2. I love that you worked in a little non-cooking action. I'll stay tuned for the day that you give us a peek at your shoes or handbag...though cooking with a handbag would be a bit cumbersome, no? And what if something splattered? Okay, I never hope to see your bags here...but shoes seem safe!

  3. S - Fries are a pain in the ass to make, so I bet you'll be okay. Just don't go out and buy a deep fryer!

    S - I'll feature some shoes soon. No handbags, though, that's just silly.

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