Want to stay in, but eat like you’re out? Here, chef and writer Heather Platt shares recipes inspired by L.A.’s hottest restaurant dishes. We say “inspired by,” as these creations are Platt’s own and have been adapted for the home cook, using easy-to-access ingredients and techniques you can pull off in just about any kitchen—yes, even yours.
The Real Thing: If you think the classic French bistro combination of steak and fries isn’t hack-worthy, then you’ve never had the version chef Thomas Keller makes at Bouchon. The 9 oz flat-iron is pan-seared and basted with butter and its juices, topped with shallots that have been caramelized in the same pan, and finished with a thick slice of maitre d’hotel butter (herb butter) that melts into the whole package. The entire steak becomes as soft and succulent as the butter on top of it. And of course it’s nestled up against a pile of crispy fries.
The Hack: Despite the dish’s seemingly straightforward nature, steak frites isn’t a weeknight dinner staple. I blame the deep fryer—home cooks either don’t have it or done want to mess with it. So, this version allows for oven roasting your fries. It’s almost shocking how little texture and no flavor is sacrificed by ditching the fryer. You’ll want to start making “frites” with everything. For the steak, caramelize the shallots in advance (instead of in the pan with the steaks) and follow Keller’s lead by basting your steaks with their juices. This dish is all about that beautiful coin of cold, herby butter placed on top of the slow-cooked shallots. Be sure to serve with a steak knife and cut against the grain when eating.
Steak Frites with Caramelized Shallots and Herb butter
-Inspired by Thomas Keller’s version at Bouchon Beverly Hills
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
1 pound yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide sticks
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 8oz flat-iron steaks
4 large shallots, finely diced
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons thyme leaves, plus a handful of sprigs
Freshly cracked black pepper
Place the cut potato sticks in a large jar, fill with cold water and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
In a blender chop the parsley leaves. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter, lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Blend until smooth. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and transfer the butter mixture the the center. Wrap the plastic wrap around and gently roll it out to form a short cylinder of butter. Secure the ends by twisting both sides and place in the refrigerator until firm.
While the potatoes and butter are chilling, make the caramelized shallots. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the vinegar along with a pinch of salt and cracked pepper. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally until the shallots are dark purple and very tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Coat the bottom of a large cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lay the potato sticks flat in the skillet. Drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon thyme leaves and a few sprigs. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes to turn the potatoes to ensure they brown evenly on all sides.
While the frites are roasting, remove the steaks from the refrigerator. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Remove frites from oven and carefully transfer to two serving plates, leaving room on the plates for steak. Leave the oven on.
Remove any remaining thyme sprigs and wipe out any burned bits from the skillet and heat over high heat for 1 minute. Add the remaining olive oil. Add the steaks and 1 tablespoon of butter. Reduce the heat to medium-high and flip the steaks after about a minute or until they have browned on the first side. Tilt the pan and using a large spoon, baste the steaks with the pan juices while they cook for 2 more minutes on the second side. Then neatly place the caramelized shallots on top of each steak and place the pan in the oven for about 4 minutes, until the steaks are medium-rare.
Remove the butter log from the refrigerator and cut into 1/2 inch coins. Place each steak on the plates next to the frites and neatly place the butter coins on top of the steaks with shallots. Serve with steak knives—though you may not even need ’em.