Another Simple, Modest Meal Suggestion: Steak Frites

Dinner last night. A long time staple of any French Brasserie: Steak Frites. While you can use a culotte (tri-tip), the entrecôte (ribeye) is the traditional cut to use, likely because of its delicious fattiness, such that if you cook it to at least medium rare, you basically have a sauce to go with your frites. In this case, I made my standard simple red-wine reduction, method detailed here.

  1. Slowly reduce about 1/2 C of red wine per serving until you get a syrup, like a few Tbsp.
  2. Add your beef stock. I typically use about a cup of Trader Joe’s organic (per serving).
  3. Reduce the whole thing to about 1/3 C per serving.
  4. Add a pat of butter per serving.
  5. Bring to a boil and add 1/4 tsp potato starch per serving to just enough cold stock to make a slurry. Stir, watch it thicken, serve.

I’ve changed that up a bit in that now, once I have my syrup from reducing the wine, I add the butter and let that moisture boil off as well. Then the stock. In this way I rarely need to thicken to get the butter fat to bind with the liquid, for whatever reason. This is done while the fries cook in the oven. You can also do a pepper sauce, green peppercorn made with crème fraiche being the more traditional. That’s an easy preparation as well.

The problem is, making frites is a pain in the ass if done in the traditional way of deep frying (lard, tallow, or some other real fat, please!). So here’s the simple way to do this whole meal. Prep time is about 40 minutes, but it’s not hard. Helps if you have a mandoline slicer to make the potato prep quick & easy. You’ll slice your fries in 1/5th the time it takes to do by hand. Click for the hi-res version.

Steak Frites
Steak Frites

I use a cast iron skillet. In this case, a couple of tablespoons of lard, melted down and then toss your fries in them to coat, dump them onto a cookie sheet, spread them out and toss ’em in the oven at 400, 20-25 minutes until brown on the bottom. A couple minutes under the broiler to finish will get the tops a little more browned.

In the meantime, get the sauce going in a separate pan so you can be done by the time the fries are done. In the last 10 minutes, add your steaks (grassfed, bone-in ribeyes in the case, 1 lb each) to the case iron, on medium, which is already coated in lard. I use a glass lid so I can see what’s going on inside, while boosting the ambient heat so you get the fat melted inside the steak. About 4 minutes, then turn them and cover for another 3 minutes. For a ribeye, I’m looking for a medium rare. Pink & hot, not red & warm. I save the rare, or blue, for a good filet.

Eat up, and if you want to share a simple, classic meal with your friends, there’s always the Facebook and Twitter buttons up top.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. gallier2 on March 2, 2011 at 07:32

    Just a little advice (to the other readers): don’t use frozen fries, they are coated with high-pufa oils and even if you then make them then in real fat, you will still get the pufa load. This wouldn’t be that bad but as they come from the “industry” they likely use the cheapest, rancid full of trans-fat oils. If I remember correctly it represented about 2.5% by weight of the fries.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 07:37

      Been a long, long time since I used frozen, packaged fries or hash browns. I’m sure they would taste rancid to me, now, which is why I usually pass on the hash browns in a cafe, even if I can get them to fry my eggs in butter. There are a couple of local places, however, that cook my eggs in butter and do up a fresh batch of browns in bacon drippings.

  2. Ed on March 2, 2011 at 07:39

    Do fries fall into your 80/20 basket or PWO meal category?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 07:44


      I actually don’t eat a LOT of potatoes, so in that sense, yea, part of the 20% in terms of paleo purity. Then again, I’m not anti-potato nazi. Some folks have even found they do better on white russet taters than the more paleo sweets & yams. In terms of carbs, overall, I’m still on the low side most of the time. PWO is not an issue right now as I have been off the Leangains method since the holidays and my neck/shoulder problems (getting better every day, now, thanks to Sarno as written up recently).

      Strephan Guyenet of Whole Health Source has a recent good series on potatoes you should check out. Also, on my blog last spring I did a controversial couple of posts on potatoes. Lots of action in the comments.

      • Mallory on March 2, 2011 at 08:28

        add one for white taters… i do white potatoes and yams better than sweet potatoes or starchy squash(even worse), but i have no idea why. i am just sticking with what works for me and i could care less what someone else advocates. hell, i handle white rice better than winter squash and sweet potatoes too.

        if you can use ‘ribeye’ would chuck eye be okay? i cannot afford rib eye but try and find deals on chuck eye to make do. annoyance, i moved 2 days ago and one of my OCD roommates rearranged everything i put in the kitchen…and WASHED my cast iron skillet. now my spices are on the other side of the kitchen where you prep in the bottom corner shelf. not that you care haha but i needed to rant

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 09:02

        Doon’t know about the chuckeye, but it certainly won’t hurt to give it a shot. I would suggest going heavy on the sauce and probably the green peppercorn and creme fraiche might be the better way to go since the meat probably won’t be as tasty or tender.

      • Mallory on March 2, 2011 at 18:25

        sounds like a plan, thanks!

  3. Dan on March 2, 2011 at 07:49

    Love your blog! One small correction, a pink center is the definition of medium, not medium rare. A warm, red center is medium rare, cold red center is rare and a very cold red center is extra rare or blue.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 11:34


      Color is simply unreliable. I can cook a lean filet, a semi fatty NY and a fatty ribeye to exactly the same internal temp and you will have three different colors with the filet being the redest. A ribeye — depending of course on the fat content — and grassfed vs supermarket makes a difference, as does quality of supermarket — can be perfectly MR and still be more pink than red.

  4. lalo on March 2, 2011 at 08:12

    tasty, but that looks small… and problematic! Im a big eater (one meal per day) and sadly -for me- potatoes > no fkn satiety + massive cravings afterward . tried several times, always the same… potatoes PWO meal? ( better insulin sensitivity) no difference. with lots of butter, no difference. with fat, bacon, no difference. with eggs ? ditto.. so its meat for me. And eggs. And cheese, milk, chocolate, almonds. Lol. if it wasn’t for my fasting…

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 08:59


      Absolutely. Remember, you are now the authority on this and NOTHING trumps that. You have experimented in every conceivable way, controlling for one variable at a time and came up with the same result. So you never again need worry about it.

      Though, if you like taters and depending on how long you’ve been at paleo and what your metabolism was like going in, you might be inclined to retest at intervals, like every 6 months to see if it remains the same.

  5. Ken Smithmier on March 2, 2011 at 09:03

    Richard, do you use the standard hydrogenated lard? I understand it is less than perfect but I can’t find anything other than that anywhere.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 09:11

      No, I use leaf lard from Prather Ranch that I get locally, either at the SF Ferry Terminal or down here at the Campbell farmer’s market on Sundays.

      Two ideas: you can probably source it online from a number of places. Get a big tub. Keeps for a long time. If you have a Mexican market in your area, they might render real lard. I have one. However, it is not leaf lard and has a definite flavor that I don’t care for in most applications.

    • HeMan on March 2, 2011 at 09:59

      If you’re in Canada, Tenderflake brand lard is non-hydrogenated and readily available (pretty sure they don’t sell it in the states). Not as good as fresh rendered, but not everyone has easy access to such things.

  6. lynch on March 2, 2011 at 09:29

    Ken, I’ve been able to find what I think is ‘real’ lard at a local carniceria. A ~16oz container was $2. It’s not a packaged product, but is (from what I could understand with my limited spanish skills and the butcher’s limited english) taken from the pork that the butcher sells.

    No luck on tallow though. 🙁

    • CG on March 2, 2011 at 10:11

      You can find Beef Tallow at US Wellness Meats (quick google search with give you the URL). Only downside is you have to order it by at least $75 worth but it’s all grassfed.

  7. Chris B on March 2, 2011 at 11:09

    Even as a little girl I knew that a good steak was the best food in the world and that it didn’t qualify as a GOOD steak unless it was a rare steak.
    As a side note, thanks for the link to Colin McNulty. I had never heard the term “blue steak” and I thought I was pretty well educated in that area!
    One of his commenters named Jim Van Vleck had a really great line:

    “… to not love rare steak is to say “No” to life.”

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 11:21

      Chris B:

      I get so dammed sick of this, and this isn’t the first time. I don’t care in the slightest what you judge as “qualifies” for ME as a “GOOD” steak. I would never presume to tell you that if you don’t share my preferences, then yours don’t “qualify” as “GOOD.”

      How fucking arrogant.

      As far as I’m concerned, you’re the one with the narrow outlook. I grew up eating rare and medium rare, I still do, and I eat sushi and I eat steak tartare and I eat steak blue.

      But it depends on the cut, the application, cooking method, sauce and what kind, or just melted or browned butter and the list goes on and on.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 11:55

        And just let me add a distinction in here. I’m all for arrogance. I am. but I reserve it for moral issues, i.e., such as the food industry, medical establishment, and government doing harm to people, through force or fraud.

        But matters of preference and taste are just that. They are not moral judgments and it has always irritated me (I have an aunt like this) when people act as though their particular tastes are not just better for them, which I would agree, but better for everyone.

        It’s like saying: I’ve always worn green and nothing else qualifies as a good color.

      • Chris B on March 2, 2011 at 13:31

        Wow, I don’t know what to say except that I would NEVER presume to tell you what is good for you. And I don’t believe that I ever have been arrogant in the couple of times that I have commented here. If I have, I am sorry.

        I usually love your posts and your take-no-prisoners attitude and I THOUGHT I was making a good-natured comment about how unusual it might be for a small girl to prefer steak to any other food and what type I preferred for ME.
        If quoting what I thought was a fun line from a comment on a post that was entirely about cooking meat either rare or blue – which you originally linked to – was a sign to you of my narrow outlook and making of a moral judgement, then perhaps you might want to consider that you have either confused me with someone else or over-reacted just a little to what I actually wrote.
        I really do not intend to get into a pissing contest over what I said, so I’m just going to bow out quietly now. If you want to call me out next for being overly sensitive, then so be it.

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 13:34

        Chris B:

        Don’t sweat it. Yea, overreaction I’m sure. It’s a pet peeve.

        Now go have yourself a nice rest of the day, and a rare steak tonight. Gonna be sauerkraut and pork spareribs for me in the crock pot.

      • Chris B on March 2, 2011 at 13:54

        Thanks, we all have our trigger points so it’s all good – you haven’t scared me away yet. ;p
        And it’s corned beef and cabbage for us tonight … great minds and all that maybe?

      • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 13:59

        There is one dish I love, but have never fixed myself. There’s a cafe near here and every thursday is CB&C special for 4.95, and it’s a LOT of corned beef, so whenever I get the urge, I hit that place.

  8. V on March 2, 2011 at 11:42

    Real lard– simple enough to render yourself. I’ve bought pig and cow fat from butchers and rendered my own, unfortunately not from pastured animals though. I’ve had more success buying rendered lard from well raised animals from the farmer’s market (I find tallow a pain to work with so don’t deal with it much anymore)

    On frites. I generally do a two-step oven french fry. I parboil the potatoes in acidic salted water then bake them as you describe. The acid (1T of cider vineger per quart water or so) strengthens the pectin in the potatoes leading to a stronger crisper fry with a better mouth feel IMO than straight up baking. The salt in the water seasons the fry during the parboil. It is an extra step though.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 11:58

      That sounds very valid, V. It’s probably a lot like doing the twice deep fry method where you put them in until limp but hot, remove them and let them cool, then put them in again and they come out very brown and crispy.

      One caution is that is you do bake only once, don’t touch them until done, i.e., don’t try to turn them. They are likely to fall apart.

  9. Jon W on March 2, 2011 at 12:27

    Richard, when you are doing Leangains roughly how many grams of carbs would you eat on non WO days?

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 12:35

      I am not at liberty to reveal specifics not already in the posts or comments. Sorry, but I agreed to it and must keep my word. I do believe Martin is working hard on his book, however.

  10. Joe on March 2, 2011 at 16:10

    Forget the Free the Animal book, just do a cookbook with hi res pictures.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 2, 2011 at 16:20

      I’ll take that as a compliment.

      I may do a cookbook in all color, afterwards, but I’ll have to come up with with a unique way of doing it. I just can’t do anything conventional.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Follow by Email8k