Gourmet (March 2008)
Our favorite restaurant in D.C. is a French bistro. It's way too noisy and always too crowded, and the servers' gruff, no-frills attitudes sometimes border on rudeness.
And we love the place so much that we don't even need to look at the menus anymore.
Partly, that's because we tend to return to the same meal again and again -- a carafe of the house red wine and steak frites with béarnaise.
So we were really excited to see Gourmet's March tribute to all things bistro. And we couldn't wait to try making steak frites at home.
We were thrilled with how this meal turned out! And the whole thing was surprisingly easy.
First off, we got to use our mandolin, a device that had been gathering dust in our pantry (and one of the final straws that led to a self-imposed ban on new kitchen gadgets last year). The mandolin did make the shoestring French fries ridiculously easy to cut, though.
The steaks themselves were almost effortless. We did ours in the broiler instead of the stovetop (which the recipe recommends), because we made four steaks. Doing them in the broiler allowed us to just throw them on a cookie sheet, instead of having to use two or three pans on the stove, or doing the steaks in batches.
The béarnaise -- which, let's face it, is really the star of the show, here -- turned out great, as well. Rich and creamy, but tart and tangy, too, thanks to the lemon juice and fresh tarragon.
All in all, this recipe made for a delicious, easy and extremely fun dinner with a friend on a Friday night. We will definitely be making this again -- although we'll probably still head out to the bistro a lot, too.
Entrecôte Béarnaise (Pan-Seared Rib-Eye Steak With Béarnaise)
Gourmet (March 2008)
Active time:20 min
Start to finish:20 min
Tricked out with shoestring fries, this is a time-honored rendition of steak frites—meat and potatoes à la française. A rich sauce on the side enhances the already flavorful well-marbled meat.
2 (1 1/4-inch-thick) boneless rib-eye steaks (16 oz each)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
3 large egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Halve steaks crosswise, then pat dry and sprinkle all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat a 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then add oil, swirling skillet to coat bottom, and cook steaks 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to a platter and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 5 minutes. Make béarnaise while steaks stand: Boil wine, vinegar, shallots, and 1 tablespoon tarragon in a small heavy saucepan until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve set into a medium metal bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids. Whisk yolks into vinegar mixture, then set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until yolks have thickened slightly (do not scramble). Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time, adding each piece before previous one has melted completely. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice, remaining tablespoon tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (or to taste). Serve steaks with sauce.
The egg yolks in the sauce will not be fully cooked.
Béarnaise can be made 20 minutes ahead and kept in bowl, covered, over hot water off heat.
Pommes Pailles (Shoestring Potatoes)
Gourmet (March 2008)
Active time:25 min
Start to finish:25 min
A mountain of skinny, crispy fries adds drama to the plate. Unlike thick-cut fries, which are traditionally fried twice (first to cook them through and then to crisp them), shoestrings are fried only once. And like potato chips, they taste great at any temperature.
About 6 cups vegetable oil for frying
2 russet (baking) potatoes (1 1/2 lb total)
a deep-fat thermometer; an adjustable-blade slicer fitted with 1/8-inch julienne blade
Heat 2 inches oil to 375°F in a wide 5- to 7-quart heavy pot (at least 4 inches deep) over medium heat. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut lengthwise with slicer to make 1/8-inch-thick julienne strips. Fry potatoes in 5 or 6 small batches, stirring until golden brown, about 2 minutes per batch. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Drain potatoes on paper towels and season with salt.
Cooks’ note: Potatoes can be cut 3 hours ahead and chilled in a large bowl of cold water. Drain well and pat dry before frying.