The word bistro instantly conjures the romance of a Parisian meal, one eaten slowly between sips of wine and over lingering conversation. With a few friends, some evocative tableware, and the iconic bistro dish, steak frites, you can set such a scene at home.

Start the meal with a classic salad, frisee aux lardons. Instead of delicate frisee, I like to make it with chicory, for its curly leaves and bold flavor. The steaks will sear in no time, and a two-step technique for the fries lets you synchronize both dishes, getting perfectly cooked steak and hot, golden frites to the table simultaneously.

Keep in mind the so-called French paradox, which suggests that a diet of wine, chocolate, and cream is good for you. Savor some Lillet, a chocolate pot de creme, and the moment.


Cook's Countdown

• 2 to 3 days before: Shop for the groceries and Lillet. Make garlic oil, and bake croutons; store in an airtight container at room temperature.

• The day before: Wash and dry the salad greens; refrigerate, wrapped

in damp paper towels. Prepare the pots de crème; cover, and refrigerate.

• The morning of: Make the vinaigrette, and refrigerate. Fry the bacon, and drain on paper towels. Cut orange slices for Lillet apéritifs.

• 2 hours before: Peel the potatoes and cut into sticks. Fry the potatoes, and drain on paper towels.

Shopping List

1 navel orange

1 small head chicory

4 large russet potatoes (9 to 10 ounces each)

1 garlic clove

1/2 loaf rustic French bread

6 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate

1 anchovy fillet

4 ounces thick-cut bacon

4 boneless strip steaks (8 to 10 ounces each, about 3/4 inch thick)

2 pints heavy cream

10 large eggs

1 bottle white Lillet

Pantry Items

Coarse salt and peppercorns

Vegetable oil and extra-virgin olive oil

Distilled white vinegar and red-wine vinegar

Dijon mustard

Steak sauce

Pure vanilla extract

Unsalted butter


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