Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter and Pomme Frites

We’ve done a couple steak dishes, a flat iron done mojo style, and a more classic filet mignon with béarnaise and fried matchstick potatoes.

I sorta played with both a little more this time and made a simple grilled flat iron steak, with an herb butter inspired by Thomas Keller’s recipe from his Bouchon cookbook, and classic french fries as described by Anthony Bourdain in his Les Halles cookbook.

I started with the potatoes as they had to sit in ice water for a bit. I rough-peeled two medium Idaho spuds:

Then, I set the mandolin to the 1/4″ cut, sliced the potatoes in half length-wise and then mandolined into fries. I hand-sliced the last couple slivers, and all of them went into an ice water bath for 20 minutes or so

(By the way, as I write this post, it’s the first time I saw these pictures. Christey was trying to capture the movement of this meal, and I think these pics are really cool!)

So, with the potatoes bathing in cold water, it was a good time to make the herb butter. I started with a stick of butter at room temperature, a bunch of chives, some thyme, and some parsley. I’ll also add in the juice from half a lemon, and some champagne vinegar.

The thyme and chives (I’m happy to say) came from my herb garden in the front yard. I’m not growing parsley, so I bought it. After several futile attempts, I’ve discovered it’s impossible to grow tarragon in the Florida heat and humidity, dumb Northern European weed that it is. I think I’ll try this winter when France is deeply frozen in a bitter winter ice storm, and it’s nice and balmy here.

But I digress. Chives were chopped, thyme leaves were stripped from the stem and chopped, and parsley was torn and chopped as well

I used a large ramekin to mix everything — butter, then herbs, then mix. Once mixed well, in goes the juice of half a lemon, then just a splash of champagne vinegar (my favorite):

Once mixed thoroughly again, the butter goes into the fridge to cool off and harden and mellow into nice flavor.

At this point, the fries are ready for their first oil bath. Here’s Bourdain’s “Les Halles makes the best fries” philosophy, in a nutshell:
1) Your fries suck.
2) Restaurants have full-time people doing this, so your fries suck.
3) Blanch the potatoes first, in small batches, in 280F, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the potatoes are basically cooked through. Yours will suck, because you’ll throw a zillion potatoes spears into one frier and drop the temperature to lukewarm beer.
4) Cool to room temperature, if they’re not below that already, in which case, warm them to room temperature.
5) Fry madly in 375F oil for 2-3 minutes until crispy. Drain, salt, and there you go. Yours will suck, because you’ll throw the whole enchilada into one pot of oil and your potatoes will stick together.
6) In a restaurant, these would now be perfect pomme frites, but your fries suck.

So, I heated peanut oil in my beat-up fryer to 280F, patted dry and then blanched the fries, in three separate batches for two potatoes, drained them, and kept them on a parchment-paper pan until room temperature.

As they cooled (yes, cooled. From exactly 280F, to be exact.) to room temperature, I started the steak. Flatiron, as I mentioned in the mojo recipe, is a newly manufactured cut of steak. The butcher has to jump through a few hoops to remove some pretty annoying connective tissue, and as the world is not a perfect place, there’s always a little bit more to trim.

I cut the meat (over a pound) into two steaks, then seasoned simply with kosher salt and ground black pepper

On a pre-heated grill I grilled the steaks for 5-6 minutes on one side, then flipped and 2-3 on the other (depending on the attitude of your grill)

Meanwhile, as the steaks are cooking, I do the final fry on the fries. 375F, 2-3 minutes until crispy and golden. I threw them into a bowl with a towel, dusted with kosher salt, and they were done.

Plating: Steak with a chunk of herb butter melting on top. Fries off to the side. We used some chives to garnish, and a nice French red would be nice, but beer works as well.

Post Mortem: The fries were great. Better than any authentic sized fries (as opposed to the matchsticks) I’ve ever tried to make. Were they as good as Bouchon‘s or a real French preparation? Maybe not quite there. It is true that the grill guy and the fry guy are working next to each other, so it’s easier to take fries right out of the oil, and steak right off the grill, and plate them simultaneously. Still, they were fantastic. One word of warning — after blanching, the fries are very fragile. A bunch of my long, delicate fries broke into two or three pieces. Which still fried up nicely.

If only I had a fryer full of duck fat.

The steak was really good, too. Flatiron is definitely in my top-3 cuts of beef. Unfortunately, my half was still full of connective tissue and a big whopping artery, though Christey’s happened to get the side that was perfect. I haven’t had a problem with store-bought flatiron before, so I think I just got a lazy meatmonger this time.

The butter was beyond amazing. There was a lot left over, which will be used on rolls and toast all week.


  1. nat says:

    this is so great! i wish i had the patience (well, and money and time) to put together such a fantastic meal. but one day, it will happen!

    i loved the shot of you outside. maybe christey can take more pics of your backyard? i’d love to see what your surroundings in florida are like!

  2. foodieguide says:

    Another spectacular meal told through photos! I love the look of those fries…and I’ve passed the Brilliante Weblog Premio 2008 Award onto you guys!

  3. This is one of our favorite go-to meals in the fall and winter. It’s rich and satisfying and tastes even better after a martini and a long work week. we did this with a tarragon butter. mmmm. also, everyone needs to just understand the fact that if you don’t DOUBLE FRY your fries, they will not taste delicious. it’s all about the double fry!!

  4. nina says:

    I admire your patience….I’m afraid my fries suck, ’cause I do all the wrong things……

  5. Becky says:

    these photos are so helpful! the steaks look amazing. nice job!

  6. What a great photo essay of this meal. I loved the tips on the fries, and your knife skills look impeccable. Keep up the good work!

  7. Meeta says:

    this is my kind of meal. simple, no fuss – good meat and fries. YUm!

  8. petermarcus says:

    Nat Thanks! Our Lamb and sweet potato chips entry has a shot of the canal in our backyard with some manatee playing.

    Foodieguide Hey, wow, thanks! It’s always nice to hear someone enjoys our blog!

    WANF Tarragon would have been nice, I just wish I could grow it here.

    Nina I always did, too, until recently. Bourdain has a way with words, even in his cookbook.

    Becky Thank you!

    Monster Thanks, the fries turned out pretty good!

    Meeta Simple, but delicious!

  9. That looks so good! I love beef!

  10. absolutely beautiful
    love the bourdain recipe
    he is my boyfriend
    ok not really…

    i love you guys!

  11. Christey says:

    claudia – but, but i thought he was *my* boyfriend! I am going to have to have a talk with him… hm.

  12. Susan says:

    I also am fond of the flat iron steak. I try to keep one available at all times, easy to do with the vacuum sealed steaks from my local grocery. Very versatile cut, tasty and tender. Will try your herb butter, with tarragon, as I have been able to grow it this year in Ohio. Thanks.

  13. Kim says:

    Ok, Please don’t get pissed at me for saying this but: I find it interesting how time can change reality. Oddly the flat iron steak is a good example.
    Prior to prefabricated beef, meat was cut in very specific ways more styled after how you would cook the beef as opposed to how it fit in a box or tray. A lot of the old style cuts of beef go lost this way.
    In the olden days a flat iron steak came from the inside clod, pretty much that is what it was called, inside clod steaks not as trendy a name as Flat Iron.
    When I was a butcher in the 70′s that piece the butchers would take home because there was really no market for it you just couldn’t make that cut look good , there is after all that hunk of connective tissue so that cut would usually end up as hamburger. But as butchers we knew a good tasting cut of beef and we had the skill to whip that connective tissue into shape. The trick is that one half is used as a steak and the other half or the end with all the connective tissue you cut that out and make into cube steak. Back then it was also very cheap. So it’s not really a “Newly” developed cut of beef , it just now has a market and a new name.

  14. petermarcus says:

    Kim — Oh, I’m sure when they say it’s a “new” cut, it’s entirely market driven. Man has been buchering cattle for thousands of years, there can’t really be any undiscovered bit of meat. When the Universities of Nebraska and Florida developed the flat iron, from what I’ve read, it sounds like they just developed a method to mass-extract it.

    “Inside clod steak” reminds me of the re-branding of the “Patagonian Toothfish” to the more marketably named “Chilean Sea Bass”.

    Thanks for commenting, interesting history!