Steak Frites – An Ode To Paris
Often considered the national dish of France, this golden oldie is brilliant in its simplicity and is loved all over- Steak frites in France, steak and fries in the United States, and steak and chips here in South Africa. Call it what you like, but fried potatoes have been a firm favourite since as early as the 17th Century. Although some argue that the first thin slices of potatoes were fried in Belgium, in the early 18th century.
In France, steak is often served ‘bleu’- singed on the outside, very rare and still bloody on the inside. The best description I’ve ever heard, was from a good friend of my father, who also likes his meat cooked this way: “a good vet should be able to resuscitate it…”.
One step up is saignant- which is still very rare to most people.
À point is next. This simply means perfectly cooked, and applies to any food cooked in a French kitchen. À point steak would translate to rare-to-medium-rare in French terms, and rare for everyone else.
Entre à Point et Bien Cuit is effectively medium in France, but could be considered rare by most.
From here on out, the French would consider meat to be overcooked (and sacrilege). Cooking a piece of red meat past the point of medium would perhaps result in some dirty looks from serving staff, and a definitive coronary event in the kitchen.
Bien Cuit means well done, but you will receive a cut of meat that is still pink inside if you order it this way in France. Très Bien Cuit translates to very well done, and spoilt in the eyes of many a Frenchman.
We use fillet for steak frite (called beef tenderloin in the US), but if you prefer a more flavoursome cut, try sirloin. Alternatively you can also use rump steaks.
Preparation time: 5 minutes + marinating time
Cooking time: 5-20 minutes based on your preference + 10 minutes resting time
- 500 g beef fillet
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp truffle oil
- groundnut oil for frying- or any cooking oil that can withstand high heat
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Coat the meat with soy sauce and truffle oil. Make sure the entire surface of the meat is rubbed with the mixture. Let the meat marinade for as little as 30 minutes or overnight. You can choose to cook the fillet as a whole piece or as pre-cut individual portions.
- Heat a skillet to moderate heat and add some frying oil. Make sure the skillet is properly heated before adding the meat.
- Cook the meat on each side until it is cooked to your liking.
A cooking guide for fillet cut into 3½ – 4cm thickness:
- Cook for about 1½ minutes on each side.
- Deep, dark colour, just warmed inside. Feels spongy to the touch with little or no resistance when applying pressure with your finger.
- Cook for about 2¼ minutes on each side.
- Meat is a deep red colour and will feel spongy when pressed with your fingers. The meat will offer a little resistance when applying pressure.
- Cook for about 3¼ minutes on each side.
- The meat is dark pink in colour, with a little pink juice still visible. The meat will still be spongy to the touch, but applying pressure with your finger will have a slightly springy feeling, as the meat begins to tighten up as it cooks.
- Cook for about 4½ minutes on each side.
- Pink colour on the inside with very little or no pink juice visibly running. when applying pressure with your fingers, the meat will feel firm and offers some resistance.
- Cook for about 5 minutes on each side.
- The meat feels firm to the touch, and offers quite a bit of resistance then applying pressure with your fingers. Very little or no pink visible in the meat.
Fast(er), Healthier and Easy Baked French Fries
This is one of our favourite tricks to get perfectly cooked, rustic French fries in a jiffy. This method works well for small or large quantities, and can partially be done in advance.
For more rustic fries, leave the skin on, and cut your potatoes in chunkier 1 cm diameter fries. For more dainty fries, remove the skin, and cut your fries into smaller, thinner 5-7mm thick fries.
We tend to work on about 2 medium sized potatoes per person- between all the snacking and dipping, 1 potato per person always seems too little.
Preparation time: 20- 30 minutes
- 4 medium sized potatoes
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp truffle oil- optional
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp Fresh thyme, stems removed (Optional)
- If you’re using a conventional over, turn on the grill function to pre-heat the oven. If you’re using an airfryer, pre-heat to 200°C.
- If you’re leaving the skin on, wash the potatoes, and slice each potato into 1cm diameter chips or fries. If you’re removing the skin, peel the potatoes and slice into 5-7mm diameter chips. remember to remove any blemishes before cooking.
- Place the cut chips into a large microwavable dish with lid, and coat with olive oil. The olive oil will prevent the chips from sticking together as they cook.
- Microwave the chips on high, in the closed container for 3 minutes at a time. After every 3 minute cycle, shake the chips in the container to avoid sticking and ensure that all the chips cook evenly. Repeat this process 3-4 times until the potatoes are cooked. The cooking time may vary from one microwave to another, but I find that 9 minutes usually does the trick. (Once cooked the chips can be set aside and browned at a later stage, or baked right away.)
- Melt butter and truffle oil together.
- For browning or crisping your chips, use your pre-heated air fryer, or conventional oven. Carefully arrange chips in a baking tray (or inside your airfryer) and brush with the butter and truffle oil mixture.
- Place the baking tray in the centre of the oven, or slightly closer to the top of the oven, and keep an eye on the chips to avoid hot spots or burning. Once the chips begin to change colour, shake them in the baking dish and apply another coat of butter and truffle oil if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh thyme (Optional). Continue this process until golden brown and crispy.
- Grill for approximately 10 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.
- Salt to taste and serve immediately.
- Bon Apetit!
Serve steak frites as it is, or dress it with your favourite sauce. Our personal favourite is our signature exotic mushroom sauce.