Steak Frites with Cabernet Thyme Gravy – a French bistro comfort food classic, elevated by an incredibly flavourful gravy. Tips for perfect frites, too.
Okay, so steak frites is just steak and french fries, so what’s the big deal? The big deal is when you experience both of these things done to absolute perfection. If a restaurant has Steak Frites on the menu, it is one of those things by which the establishment and the skill of the chef can be judged. Producing a perfectly cooked juicy steak and uniform thin crispy fries is something every good chef should be able to do with ease.
Steak Frites is practically a national institution in both France and Belgium where the steak is often served with a rich butter based sauce like Hollandaise or Béarnaise. Here I’ve sort of North Americanized it with a rich gravy instead of sauce; still with a nod to the French though, the gravy has a delicious addition of cabernet sauvignon wine. You can share the rest of the bottle with your other half at dinner.
A great steak dinner can be a pricy thing, so this Valentine’s day, I decided to feature this recipe for those of you who would like to treat your sweetheart without breaking the bank. If you can perfect your own technique for making the perfect Steak Frites you can enjoy this meal at a small fraction of the cost of a restaurant visit.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Please check out the other two courses in our Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu:
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Find other dinner ideas for treating your sweetheart in our Valentine’s Day Recipes Category.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves small garlic finely minched
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups low sodium beef stock
- a pinch of salt to season
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ½ cup cabernet sauvignon wine or other dry red wine
- 3 large or 4 medium size russet potatoes
- 1 liter canola oil
- kosher salt for seasoning
- 2 inches thick-cut rib eye or strip loin steaks (1 ¼ or 3-4 cm thick)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
- 1 tbsp canola oil (if pan searing the steaks)
Melt the butter in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic in the butter for only a minute or so, just to soften it.
Sprinkle in the flour and cook until it gets slightly foamy, about another minute. Pour in the beef stock, whisking constantly. Add the salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a gentle simmer until the gravy begins to thicken.
Whisk in the red wine and simmer very slowly until the gravy reaches a thin, sauce-like consistency. Hold warm in a double boiler while the steaks and fries are being prepared.
The best, most crispy fries are always cooked in two stages at 2 different temperatures. Plan to have the first stage of cooking completed and then do the final crisp cooking of the frites as your steaks rest.
Wash or peel your potatoes and cut them into fries. The size of the fries is up to you but shoestring size, about ¼ inch square (6-7 malways maximizes the crispy flavour that complements the steak.
Hold the fries in room temperature or lukewarm water until ready to fry. Lay them out on layers of paper towels and pat dry with additional paper towels before frying.
Wash or peel your potatoes and cut them into fries. The size of the fries is up to you but shoestring size, about ¼ inch square (6-7 malways maximizes the crispy flavour that complements the steak. Hold the fries in room temperature or lukewarm water until ready to fry. Lay them out on layers of paper towels and pat dry with additional paper towels before frying.
Add the canola oil to the deep fryer and bring it to 350 degrees Fry the potato sticks until just beginning to crisp but not brown.; about 6-8 minutes for shoestring fries.
Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. These fries will likely go limp as they cool. This is perfectly normal. They will re-crisp in the second fry. Turn off the deep fryer until ready to fry again.
In the last few minutes of cooking time on your steaks, bring the oil up to 375 degrees F in the deep fryer. This way, you will be ready to do the final fry on the frites as the steaks rest.
Fry for an additional 6-8 minutes or until the fries begin to turn a light golden brown and become quite crispy. Remove from oil and toss with a pinch of kosher salt to season them before serving with the steak, gravy and some buttered green beans if you like.
Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before searing or grilling. It is much more difficult to cook a very cold steak to the desired internal temperature you prefer, than one that is at or near room temperature..
Generously season both sides and the edges of the steak with the salt and pepper.
Cook to medium rare, or your desired internal temperature, on a hot, pre-heated gas grill or pan sear in a cast iron pan with the canola oil. As a guide, about 4 minutes per side will produce a medium rare steak.
Use a meat thermometer for most accurate cooking results for steak. Internal temperature for rare is about 50 degrees C (120 to 125 degrees F), for medium rare 55 degrees C (130 to 135 degrees F) and well done should not surpass 70 degrees C (160 degrees F).
It is always important to rest the steaks for 10 minutes under a loose tent of aluminum foil before serving. This allows for residual cooking and for the natural juices to settle back into the meat. While the steaks rest, you can complete the second fry on the frites.