Consisting of little else but steak, hand-cut fries and glass or two of a good Syrah, traditionally, steak frites can be paired with steamed green beans, a crisp salad of mustard greens, shaved fennel and baby cos or a crusty loaf – fresh from the oven. Here I’ve paired the dish with a simple cream-based sauce made with a mixture of portobello and shiitake mushrooms. A béarnaise, or butter flavoured with garlic and tarragon will also work.
The key to mastering the French classic is to use the freshest ingredients available and keep to convention – the timelessness of the dish exists only because there was never anything about it that required alteration. The only nod to modernity I’ve made is to bake my fries instead of deep-frying them.
4 large, waxy potatoes, peeled
30ml duck fat, warmed to liquid stage
100g portobello mushrooms, washed
100g shiitake mushrooms, washed
2 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
A few sprigs of fresh French tarragon, washed
200ml fresh cream
4x organic 200g sirloin steaks, each about 3mm thick
Sea salt and course ground black pepper, to taste
To make the fries, slice the potatoes into rectangular chips and rinse under cold running water to remove any excess starch. Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil, add the chips and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until just soft. Preheat the oven to 220°C and place the drained, dried chips in a bowl. Pour the duck fat over the chips and toss to thoroughly coat them. Arrange the chips on a lined baking sheet, season with salt and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, turning once, until crisp and golden.
To make the mushroom sauce, finely dice the mushrooms and add into a saucepan along with the garlic and butter. Over a low heat, gently fry the mushrooms and garlic in the butter. When the mushrooms have cooked, deglaze the bottom of the saucepan with the sherry. Strip off the tarragon leaves and roughly chop, discarding the woody stalks. Add the tarragon and cream to the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste and allow to reduce until thickened.
Rub the steaks with a little olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Allow the meat to reach room temperature before cooking. Heat up a grilling pan to searing hot and fry the steaks on each side: for rare, 2 minutes per side and allow to rest for 3 minutes before serving; for medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side and allow to rest for a further 4 minutes.
Serve the steak frites as soon as all the components are ready, alongside a dish of lightly steamed greens.