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'Cute' Steak-Frites

'Cute' Steak-Frites

Filet mignon is the ideal bachelor/ette’s cut: a single nugget of tender beef with the most toothsome roast potatoes you will ever have. Medallion cuts ensure the greatest surface area resulting in the crispiest spud—but still thick enough, about half an inch, so that you’re not making chips. Parboiling before roasting gets rid of excess starch that would otherwise result in an overly grainy potato. The cooking medium can vary: olive oil for the health-conscious, butter for those who want a richer crunch, and for the devoted in search of lost time and religious experience, goose fat.

Frites:
1 large russet potato, cut into 1/2-inch medallions
2 tablespoons olive oil, butter, or goose fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed in the palm of your hand
Pinch nutmeg, freshly grated, optional
1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil, optional

Steak:
1 filet mignon (1/4 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary*
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
Handful wild mushrooms, optional

Reduction:
1/4 cup ruby port
Dash Worcestershire sauce, optional
Dash balsamic vinegar, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the frites: Cut the potato into medallion coins and add to a pot of cold water; bring to a boil and drain. The residual heat should evaporate any excess water (give it a few seconds). Then, generously anoint with olive oil, butter, or goose fat and season with salt, pepper, rosemary, and nutmeg. Roast on the top rack of the oven for 1 hour, flipping the medallions midway. If desired, drizzle over some white truffle oil, tossing the potatoes around for even distribution.

For the steak: Meanwhile, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, chili, and celery seed in a shallow dish and smear the filet mignon with the spiced ointment. Marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature. On medium-high heat, pan-sear the steak for 4 minutes on its first side, then 3 minutes on its second side; you should hear a hot sizzle all the way. Transfer to the bottom rack of the oven for 3–5 minutes depending on the thickness of your steak and desired doneness. This last step is the most important: let your meat rest for at least 5 minutes so the juices can redistribute.

For the reduction: While the steak is resting, deglaze the dirty pan with some port, scraping up all the good bits. Bubble away on high heat until the wine is reduced by about half. Add a dash or two of Worcestershire and balsamic (if you want) and taste for salt and pepper. Spoon this syrupy reduction over the filet (or sauce the plate first, then place the food around it—this maintains all the high-heat crusts you’ve achieved on both steak and frites).

The last accoutrement: crispy wild mushrooms (like oyster). These are optional, but their boskiness echoes the truffle oil in the potatoes and pairs well with the meaty steak. The trick is to preheat the pan to an almost scorching level, then quickly sauté the mushrooms in a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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