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Years ago, when my kids were little, my husband and I made sure we had a special night together at least once a week. We called it Champagne Friday, and even though we didn't drink champagne (we usually opted for a more budget-friendly alternative), we always tried to make a nice meal to enjoy together after the kids went to bed.

One of our favorites was the French bistro classic steak frites.

It's a simple dish, just steak and fries, but one usually reserved for eating out. Since going out wasn't in the cards back then, making the dish at home was the next best thing.

While pan searing a steak is a fairly straightforward process, the "frites" are a little more involved as they require deep-frying the potatoes, not just once, but twice, in order to achieve the perfect crispiness.

The dish is often served with a bearnaise sauce, which can be a little tricky, especially if you're only cooking for two.

Bearnaise sauce is a close cousin of hollandaise. It typically starts with shallots, fresh tarragon and white wine vinegar. Copious amounts of melted butter are then whisked into the mixture until a rich, creamy sauce is created.

I've simplified the dish over the years while still keeping the essential elements.

For the potatoes, I switched from the double-fried skinny French fries, which can be easy to burn, to easier-to-work-with chunky pieces.

To create an ultra-crispy crust without the need for double frying, the potatoes are parboiled with baking soda. That trick softens and breaks down the exterior of the potato, allowing a thick crust to develop during frying while keeping the inside fluffy.

In place of a bearnaise sauce, I've incorporated its signature tangy flavor and faint aroma of anise by mixing chopped tarragon and a touch of vinegar into a quick and easy compound butter that melts into a lovely sauce on top of the warm steak.

The combination of golden brown, crispy potatoes, perfectly pan-seared steak and a rich buttery sauce is sure to make any night feel like date night, with or without the champagne.

Date Night Steak and Crispy Potatoes

Serves 2.

A twist on steak frites, this flavorful version of meat and potatoes does have a couple steps, but they're easy to do and worth the effort for a date night or any other night. From Meredith Deeds.

For the potatoes:

• 1 1/4 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in. pieces

• 1/2 tsp. baking soda

• 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more for sprinkling

• 3 c. vegetable oil

For the steaks:

• 2 steaks (10 to 12 oz. each, about 1 in. thick), such as New York strip, boneless rib-eye or top loin

• 3/4 tsp. salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 3 tbsp. salted butter, room temperature

• 2 tsp. finely chopped Italian parsley

• 2 tsp. finely chopped tarragon

• 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar


Bring 8 cups water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Add potatoes and baking soda. Return to boil and cook for 2 minutes. Drain potatoes.

Return potatoes to saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the potatoes are dry, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt over the top of the potatoes and gently stir until potatoes are roughed up on the outside, about 30 seconds. Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet to cool.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat to 350 degrees. Add all the potatoes (make sure they are all submerged in oil) and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep, golden brown and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer potatoes to a paper towel–lined wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt to taste.

While the potatoes are frying, pat steaks dry and season both sides with 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Arrange steaks in skillet and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook until well-browned, about 4 minutes on the first side. Turn steaks over and cook to desired doneness, about 2 to 3 minutes more for medium-rare (125 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer). Transfer steaks to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

While the steaks rest, in a small bowl combine butter, parsley, tarragon and vinegar.

Arrange steaks and potatoes on serving plates. Top each steak with a dollop of the herb butter and serve.

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.