Monday, February 20, 2006

Steak frites

My nearest fancy grocery (Sendik's on Oakland) has finally made it to the hanger steak party. The onglet (sounds a lot like Anglais, which caused me some confusion in France, as in, there's no way the French would call a steak this good an "English") comes from the same general cow region as flank and skirt steak and like those cuts is less tender than the rib or loin. But if sliced thinly against the grain, the hanger is no more work to chew than any other cut and in terms of flavor is on par with a strip or sirloin and not far behind a ribeye. I was cooking tonight for one and I even opened up a bottle of wine just for me and my meat.

To make French fries, you peel spuds and slice them into French fry shapes and fry them twice, first at around 325 until they begin to brown (5-10 minutes depending on how big they have been cut), and then, just before eating, at 375 for a minute or two to crisp them up. In between the first and second fryings they can just sit around waiting for you. Frites are a perfect potato dish to make to serve one, because making them for a crowd requires a lot of peeling and slicing and possibly batch frying, which you might just as soon avoid. Frying also smells up your kitchen, especially in winter when you don't want to open the windows. If you're alone, no one can complain that you stank the place up. You can cut potatoes with a mandoline or some other specialized tool but if you do it by hand, as I prefer, you get charmingly irregular shapes and sizes to remind you that you made them yourself.

To cook the steak I used a cast iron skillet. I salted a couple of hours ahead of time and before cooking pressed lots of green peppercorns, cracked under a heavy pan, into the beef. I got the iron smoking hot and seared the steak on all sides for a total of about eight minutes. It was rare. If it starts out cold rather than room temp it might take a bit longer because hanger steak (at least the one I was cooking) is pretty thick.

While the steak was resting I made a sauce by adding shallots, salt, and red wine to the hot pan and cooking over medium heat until very little liquid was left. Then I stirred in a knob of butter and killed the heat. Just before slicing the steak, I dumped the juices that had accumulated under it into the sauce. Much of the pepper ended up in the sauce instead of on the steak, which was a nice surprise.

Much as I love the little man, I was glad he was in bed when I sat down to eat. He's been known to scarf down more than his fair share of fries without hardly trying.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't found the onglet here yet, but you have inspired me to make some of them there pommes frites to go with the mussels I just bought.
Maybe I'll try the mayo recipe you conveniently supplied, to go with.I understand that this trio of foods constitutes the Belgian national dish. Sounds good to me.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Iron Chevsky said...

Gonna give this a try tonight -- first time ever bought a hanger steak after reading that the French prefer it (best steaks I ever had were in France and in French restos)

I am trying to marinade for a few hours though.

Gary "Iron" Chevsky from the Iron Chevsky Wine Blog (

9:27 PM  

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