Instead of going to a crowded restaurant, you can easily pull off the simple luxury of steak and potatoes at home — and use the money you save by splurging on an expensive, top-quality cut like rib-eye or tenderloin or strip steak.
Of the three choices, I prefer the rib-eye. It makes the most succulent steak, richly marbled and very tasty. (In France, this cut is called côte de boeuf, and considered very special.)
Not to dismiss the milder tenderloin, sliced into filets mignon, but to me those are best pan-fried in butter with a lot of pepper. They are delicious, but not as meaty. Strip loin, or New York strip steak, can be quite lean and thus a bit chewy, but some swear by it. I find it makes a good roast beef, cooked whole.
But we digress. Assuming you’re going for a high-end steak, you’ll want to stop in a real butcher shop if you can. Or, order from a source you trust. It will cost you but will still be cheaper than dinner out for two. Rather than buying two pieces for two people, get one large steak, about 2 inches thick. It will produce juicier, more flavorful meat. Cover it with generous dashes of salt and pepper, a little sliced garlic and some roughly chopped rosemary, then leave it for a while to absorb the seasonings. (You’ll remove the garlic before cooking, as it would burn immediately in the hot skillet.)
Start the steak in a scorching hot cast-iron pan on the stovetop, to brown one side well. Flip, then proceed by popping the pan in a hot oven to roast until done in the center and the interior reaches 120 degrees, usually eight to 10 minutes. Let it rest 10 minutes or so before slicing into wide strips, across the grain. The residual heat will get the steak’s interior to medium-rare.
My favorite simple potato dish right now is made by boiling the tiny ones called pee-wee (even smaller than baby potatoes) in heavily salted water and tossing them with butter, garlic, parsley and lemon zest. They take but 10 minutes to cook and are fragrant and delicious, with extra potato flavor from the skins. You might substitute your own preferred potato, of course: mashed, baked or otherwise.
Throughout the year, at my house, we just call it "Steak Night,” and consider it an occasional, no-occasion indulgence.
The fact that it’s dead easy to make doesn’t diminish its appeal, and sometimes it is the perfect solution on a night when you’re not inclined to embark on a kitchen project.
Steak and potatoes is a simple, no-fuss dinner, yet very special.
Rib-Eye Steak and Potatoes for Two
Yield: 2 servings
Time: 1 hour
1 large boneless rib-eye steak, cut 2 inches thick (at least 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, sliced, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 rosemary sprig, roughly chopped
1 pound very small potatoes, rinsed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
Arugula or watercress, for serving (optional)
Step 1: Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with sliced garlic and rosemary and set aside to marinate, 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 2: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook at a brisk simmer until just done, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
Step 3: Heat a cast-iron or other heavy skillet over high heat. Remove and discard sliced garlic from steak. (If left on, it will burn in the skillet.)
Step 4: When pan is hot, put in the steak and let brown well on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Wait until steak forms a crust and comes away cleanly from the bottom to move it.
Step 5: Flip steak and transfer pan to oven, uncovered. Roast until juices begin to rise on surface of steak (you will see the droplets) and internal temperature is 120 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove steak from pan and let rest, tented with foil, for 5 to 10 minutes. (Residual heat will continue to cook the meat to medium-rare as it rests.) Warm a serving bowl for the potatoes and plates for the steak.
Step 6: Melt butter in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and toss to coat and heat through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add minced garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 1 minute or less. Gently stir in parsley and lemon zest and transfer to serving bowl.
Step 7: Cutting on a slight diagonal, slice steak into 1/2-inch slices, then transfer to plates. If using, place a handful of greens next to the steak. Serve immediately, passing potatoes at the table.