Steak and French Fries

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I’ve had a little challenge going for myself since New Year’s Eve.  To be a tad more frugal during the month of January, I’m avoiding grocery stores and working through what we have in the fridge and the pantry.  To be fair, we all did just safely escape the most food-laden time of year, and I did have a house full of guests, so that means we were very well stocked and I so I have quite a bit of residue.

But it’s January 9th and I haven’t been to a grocery store for anything.  That has to be a new world record for me.  Seriously.  Going to the grocery store is like entertainment to me, but when I go, I not only purchase what’s on my list, I purchase other items that strike my fancy because let’s face it:  one can never have a pantry that is too well stocked, right?

The only problem is, the menu is getting a little heavy on the carbs, and when that happens, I crave beef.  Not a hamburger.  Not pieces chopped for a stew.  Nothing with a sauce or that’s been marinated.

Steak. Just plain old steak.

So I rummage around in my freezer knowing there’s something in it to take care of my craving, and because I’m not Martha, I need improvement in the “buy in bulk on sale, split up and freeze for later” department, so don’t always mark my packages.  I am improving, however.  Sometimes, different cuts of beef surface, or the three of us split one if it’s a decent size. But it makes no difference to us, because it’s steak.

And what could go better with steak than fries?

Have you ever made your very own Pommes Frites?  It’s Friday.  Why not turn your kitchen bar into a French Bistro tonight?  Come on.  Liven things up a bit and think of all the money you’ll be saving instead of going out.

You could even end up with a bit o’ romance in the process.

 

Steak & French Fries

Ingredients

2 lbs. russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled or unpeeled
vegetable oil for frying
sea salt
beef steaks for three
salt, pepper, minced garlic

Directions

  1. Scrub potatoes and rinse well.  Cut lengthwise into large matchsticks, about 1/4-1/3″ thick.  Rinse again, and allow to drain on a clean terry cloth.  Pat dry if necessary.
  2. In a pot deep enough to pour the vegetable oil about half way up the sides, attach a food thermometer and heat the oil to about 310 degrees F.
  3. Working with small batches, gently plunge the potatoes into the oil until they begin to develop color, about 6-7 minutes.  Remove the potatoes from the oil and allow to drain on layers of paper towels.
  4. Allow the oil to return to 310 degrees F before adding another batch of potatoes and repeating the process until finished.  Turn down the heat under the oil.
  5. At this point, you may prepare your steak to your liking.  See notes for what we like to do.
  6. When the steak is nearly done, turn the heat under the oil up.  When it reaches 360 degrees F, return all the fries to the pot all at once, cooking until they’re golden brown and crispy.  Remove from the oil, and allow to drain on fresh layers of paper towels.  Sprinkle liberally with a good sea salt.
  7. Pour some red wine, light a candle or two, choose some music and enjoy your Friday evening bistro at home for quite a bit less than you would if you went out.

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Recipe Notes:

  • My husband and I make these together.  It’s more fun and comes together very quickly.
  • I’ve tried other methods of making french fries and have decided this double fry method works best.  The fries are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
  • You have to make sure the oil is at temp each time you begin or you’ll have greasy, and/or limp fries.  Why not just go to a fast food joint for those?
  • Look at the paper towels you’ve “drained” the fries on.  If you’ve gotten the temp correct, there will be little or no oil on the towels, and what’s there will most likely be from the strainer you used to remove the fries from the oil.
  • For years I’ve used a $15 Wilton thermometer that attaches to the side of my pan.  Before that, I used an old Hamilton Beach electric wok I no longer have.  Now I have a new fangled digital thermometer (Maverick) that I can program temps into.  It makes a sound when my temp has been reached.
  • We use one of those wire basket strainer spoons (Joyce Chen) to lower the potatoes into the oil, and to take them out.  It keeps the oil from splashing.
  • Don’t put too many fries into the oil at once.  It reduces the heat too quickly, and then you risk soggy fries.
  • You can go through the first fry up to an hour before serving time, so this is a great make ahead dish.
  • For the steak, I purchase good meat (usually rib eye) when it’s on sale and is in “family pacs.”  If the pieces are large, I cut them up before freezing always thinking about portion size.  None of us eat a whole steak any more.  A portion for us is usually around 5-6 oz.  Dollarwise, our portions end up costing about what you’d pay for a Whopper.  No contest.
  • Mince some fresh garlic and mix it with coarse sea salt & cracked pepper.  Rub it on both sides of the meat, and then heat a skillet or griddle until it’s very hot (water splashed on it will skip across the surface).  Sear the meat until a nice crisp exterior begins to develop and then flip to the other side. Do this only once. To determine doneness, use this test.

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17 thoughts on “Steak and French Fries

  1. Gotta tell you — your winter pantry is looking mighty fine to me.
    We’ll probably be doing some of that cleaning out ourselves in the next month… and I should hope to come up with something fine as your frites. 🙂

  2. your fries look great, kelly. one of my unvoiced resolutions is to become comfortable with deep fat frying. i’m not there yet, but hey–i’ve got some time. 🙂

  3. That looks fantastic, and thanks for the twice-fry technique; I’ll try it. I also didn’t know that if your oil is the right temp, your drain-towels won’t be wet with oil. Now I have a benchmark!
    Last year, during Februry, I declared it Use-It-Up month and permitted myself to shop only for dairy and vegetables. Everything else had to come from the freezer or pantry. It was difficult at first because like you, I shop for entertainment and I’m notorious about buying whatever looks good, overbuying, and buying one ingredient out of a recipe because I was strolling by and thought “Oh yeah, Saffron — every pantry needs that.” The month-long policy was actually very freeing, but I confess I turned to my old ways very quickly. Darn that Trader Joe’s — it taunts me so with its bargain priced imported foodstuffs.
    It’s a New Year and I need to do this routine again, like you. Good luck!

  4. Yum… What is your favorite way to thaw your meat..
    overnight….??I always wait until the last minute and end up at the store to buy fresh.. leaving the
    freezer full… uggg..

  5. Lori — It’s been interesting — more so than I thought. I finally broke down and went to the store yesterday, but for some veggies, milk, and wine.
    Judy, I’ve seen the method around, but thought it would be time consuming. Instead, it allows for make ahead which is great!
    Karen, I know lots of people are not thrilled with frying, but we’re always extremely cautious and know how to handle any problems that may arise. The deep pan is what really helps. And there’s no popping — the oil sort of acts like a rolling boil. Keeping the potatoes very dry is key.
    Kathy, I’m thinking fries and a steak and onion panini with blue cheese…YUM!
    James, funny, but I immediately thought of those fries that used to get stuck between the seats in my car when my boys were little. Petrified!
    Grace, grab yourself a partner and take it slow. Temp is everything!
    Natashya, you bring the red wine and we’re set.
    Courtney, I’ve also read that instead of the second fry, baking them in a moderate oven for about 12 minutes works, but I haven’t tried that.
    Kate — you hit the nail on the head. Too many bright and shiny things in the grocery store! Next on my list to extend this experiment is to search for recipes that have a particular ingredient from my pantry that isn’t used all that often. Talk about playing with food…

  6. The double fry does seem to be the most successful but I’m really happy with my baked fries.
    You crave steak. . . I think I crave red meat about twice a year and then one or two bites are plenty. I guess I’m pretty strange.

  7. I am also trying to stay away from shopping…even to the point of having Mr. stop to get the milk and other necessary things. I’ve vowed to weed out the pantry and the freezer. I know there are interesting things hiding way, way in that back!

  8. The only way to make french fries is to make them yourself. Steak Frites with a little bernaise. Great combo and one that is craved here from time to time. I really like your site by the way .

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