Steak-frites, meaning “steak [and] fries” in French, is a very popular dish served in street side brasseries and bistros throughout world.
For many residents of Belgium, it is considered their national dish, however, it may be argued by the French who really invented it. The dish has been well-enjoyed throughout both countries and most French-style bistros. Its popularity has led to the development of many variations which use cuts such as rump steak, porterhouse, rib eye, and flank as steak. The steak is commonly accompanied by rustic, hand-cut potatoes or commercially available ones in thin or wedge cuts. Often served with tangy tarragon flecked béarnaise sauce, seasonal greens, and crusty white bread.
The sauce is a rich white sauce made of clarified butter, egg yolks, a bunch of herbs, and vinegar. If you have ever made hollandaise sauce before, then all you need are a few extra ingredients. This sauce uses shallots, chervil, peppercorns, and tarragon all basked in white wine or vinegar. The mixture is then reduced to a thick consistency using a bain-marie which is a fancy term for double boiling.
Despite being the conventional way of serving up a steak-frites meal, not all can appreciate a béarnaise sauce. As such, you can always opt for a red wine reduction sauce flavored to perfection. It works almost like the béarnaise sauce, only it is red and uses beef broth minus the eggs. Drench your steaks just before serving but keep you frites at a safe distance to avoid them from getting soggy.
Although the steak is obviously the star in this recipe, the dish could easily go wrong without the crisp and flavorful fries. The key to making these fries extra crispy is choosing a variety of potatoes that have less starch in them. In most French restaurants, the fries are tossed in a sauce verte which is a salsa verde made of chilies, garlic, capers, parsley, and sherry.
More expensive cuts of beef steak such as porterhouse, sirloin, rib eye, or filet mignon are the preferred cuts used to prepare this dish. There is no one rule as to what type of steak cut can be used for this dish. Some restaurants even try to elevate it by using cuts such as tenderloin. Filet mignon, skirt steak, and a New York strip. With the steak being well seasoned, and grilled in a heavy skillet, cooked as per the customers liking.
This dish may seem to be just another name of a meal on the menu, but in France, some restaurants gain a line of customers waiting to be served with steak-frites. Meanwhile when in Belgium, it would be considered rude not to enjoy this dish with a pint or three of local beer. I beer is not up for your taste, then opt for a fancy glass of red wine to elevate the flavors o the steak and improve your fancy ambiance. Whichever beverage you feel like pairing, the star will always be the steak-frites.
Steak-frites RecipeCourse: MainCuisine: BelgianDifficulty: Easy
For the best taste, real Belgian frites must be fried in beef tallow. Besides the flavor, this also has the advantage that the smoke point of beef tallow (255C/490F) is higher than of most vegetable oils used for deep frying, creating crisper golden frites. I was told that some of the best frites outlets in Belgium used to (and some still do) cook their potatoes in horse fat, which adds to the taste of the frites.
6 – 8 large potatoes, either Russet or Yukon Golds
2 kg beef fat tallow
Ice Cold Water
Sea salt flakes
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Béarnaise sauce
40ml of white wine vinegar
10ml of lemon juice
20g of tarragon, chopped
2 shallots, finely sliced
3 egg yolks
200g of butter, clarified
- Beef Steaks
Four 350g thick beef rib eye steaks
30g Black peppercorns
30g Course Sea Salt
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup high-quality Cognac
Directions – FRITES
- Peel potatoes, Cut the potatoes into sticks or wedges. Keep in mind that the thicker they are, the longer they will take to fry.
- Place the potato sticks in a bowl and cover with ice cold water. Allow the potatoes to soak for about an hour.
- Remove the potatoes from the water and pat them dry with a paper towels work as well.
- Fill a stockpot with cold water and 2 tablespoon of sea salt, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Remove the potatoes from the cold water with a slotted spoon and cook in the boiling water until fork-tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Lift the potatoes from the water and spread out on a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Pat the potatoes dry, replace the original layer of paper towels with dry paper towels, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Once you are ready to fry, place the beef tallow in a deep stockpot and heat it to approximately 275 degrees.
- Working in batches, carefully fry the chilled potatoes for 3 to 5 minutes before lifting them from the hot oil with a slotted metal spoon and spreading on the baking sheet (no paper towels this time!).
- Let the oil regain its heat between batches.
- Chill the potatoes again for 30 minutes.
- While the potatoes chill, raise the heat under the fat and heat the fat to 375°F.
- Fry the chilled potatoes again until golden brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, working in batches and letting the fat regain its heat between each one.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the fries to a shallow bowl. Add the parsley and toss to mix. Season with salt and serve warm.
- Directions – Béarnaise sauce
- Make a reduction by boiling the white wine vinegar, lemon juice, half the tarragon and the shallots until reduced by half. Strain and allow to cool
- Mix together the egg yolks and reduction then whisk in a glass bowl over a bain-marie until the mixture is thick and able to coat the back of a spoon
- Remove from the heat and slowly start to drizzle in the butter whisking all the time until all the butter is incorporated
- Add the remaining tarragon and season with salt and pepper
- Directions – Beef Steaks
- Crush the peppercorns and sea salt using a pestle and mortar, and roll the fillets in the crushed salt and pepper to coat them.
- Place the butter in a pan over high heat, and when it begins to foam, sear the fillets on each side for one minute each side.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper and continue cooking, turning the steaks every other minute, until you see little pearls of blood come to the surface, about 3 to 4 minutes. The steaks should be cooked rare to medium for juicy, tender meat.
- Remove the steaks and place them on warmed plates. Over medium heat, deglaze the pan with Deglaze with the Cognac, and flambé the contents of the pan.
- Next swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and cook until the butter is melted and combined with the cognac.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of these pan juices over each steak. And serve.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of hot béarnaise sauce over the steak and serve with hot frites and a fresh green salad.
Tips and Tricks
- If you are not a fan of beef tallow, you can always opt to use peanut oil instead. This type of oil has a clean taste that adds an appeal to the fries.
- If you cannot find a variety of fries with less starch, what you can do is to bathe your cut potatoes in cold water inside the refrigerator overnight. If you are in a hurry, soak the cut potatoes in cold water for at least an hour. This method draws out the excess starch in the potatoes.
- You can add homemade flavored butter to go on top of your steak. Make your own compound butter with parsley, herbs you prefer, and garlic, and then stir in with the butter. Keep this in refrigerated temperature and scoop on top of your searing hot steak. You can even use truffle butter to make the dish even fancier.
- Never forget to rest your steak. This period allows the juices of steak to be redistributed and equally cook the outer layer of the steak. Failure to rest your steak after cooking can cause a lot of loss of juices as you cut right into it.