It is getting colder as I write this so it’s time for
me us to turn our attention to meat and potatoes. I suppose you could just get a burger and fries at a fast food outlet but not me.
Let’s assume you have made a steak. With meat-price inflation that may be a big assumption on my part, but maybe things will have calmed down by the time you read this. Why not serve the steak with potato wedges and a Bordelaise sauce? What’s that? You have a life? No, trust me, this is simple.
Baked Potato Wedges (this should be enough for four side servings)
Cut 2 lbs. of unpeeled russet potatoes into wedges. The simplest thing to do is to boil the wedges (about 8 minutes, until tender but not mashable), let them cool, put them on a paper-lined baking sheet, spread them out, brush with olive oil, and bake for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Boiling them first makes them lighter and fluffier, but they’ll still crisp.
For heartier wedges, don’t boil the wedges. In a big bowl combine (and this is your choice, so everything is optional, but you should pick at least 2 or 3): 2 tbsp olive oil, 1—2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2—1 tsp onion powder, 1/2—1 tsp smoked paprika, many shakes of salt, and/or a few shakes of pepper. Spread these on a lined baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees (you need the oven to be slightly hotter because of all the coating) for 40 minutes, maybe a little longer if they haven’t quite crisped enough. When they’re done, you can sprinkle them with finely grated parmesan cheese. If you do all of this you can forgo the steak and Bordelaise altogether, and eat them yourself or with a companion and a big bowl of ranch dressing while watching sprots and drinking beer.
A Simple Bordelaise Sauce (makes about 1 1/2 cups)
Guess who popularized Bordelaise in America. If you picked Julia Child you would be correct. Her recipe is easily found online and it hews very closely to the age-old French version. I don’t do it because it calls for a 4” length of beef marrow. And how do you obtain this? You buy a bone from your butcher, split it in half yourself with a cleaver, and carefully extract the marrow and dice it. Since I’m not going to win any axe-throwing contests this seems a bridge too far.
Put 3 tbsp finely diced shallots, 1 sprig of thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon of crushed peppercorns, and 1 1/4 cup of a Bordeaux red wine in a saucepan and heat over medium. Widely known versions of Bordeaux red wines are Malbec, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. They don’t actually have to be from Bordeaux, but use this kind of wine because that’s mostly what makes this “bordelaise,” “from Bordeaux”. Reduce all of this until it becomes a syrup, which takes about 10 minutes. Next add 1 1/4 beef stock (important note: stock, not broth. Stock is thicker.) Keep cooking this until you can coat a spoon with it. Take it off the heat and strain it, or carefully just pluck out the bay leaf and thyme, or at least the biggest bits of what’s left. Presentation is not my strong suit. Finally, stir in 1 tbsp butter. You need to do this fast because if you leave the sauce out while you root around for 1 tbsp butter it will congeal pretty quickly.