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.