This is an excerpt from Eater’s debut cookbook, focusing on a gold-standard classic to add to your repertoire, care of Frenchette in New York City.
Chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson are veterans of Minetta Tavern and Balthazar, two of New York City’s most storied power lunch spots. At their perpetually packed restaurant Frenchette, the duo knows exactly what it takes to enthrall Tribeca’s chic lunch crowd. The tartare frites, nearly always on the menu, reward guests who want to stick to a classic with one of the finest versions in the country.
At home, consider this the only from-scratch French fry recipe you’ll ever need; and making the tartare is like getting a lesson on knife work from a pro (a butcher can help source a good tenderloin for this one). When paired with a funky natural wine, this is French bistro fare at its coolest.
Frenchette’s Tartare Frites Recipe
For the fries:
5 large (4 pounds) Idaho potatoes
2 quarts peanut oil or other neutral oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the tartare:
4 ounces beef tenderloin
1 tablespoon chopped cornichon
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
¾ teaspoon egg yolk
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, cut just before serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated fresh horseradish
Step 1: Start the fries at least one night, if not two, before you plan on serving. Peel the potatoes and place them into a bowl full of cold water. Cut each one into ½ × ½-inch strips and place them back into the cold water. Cover with a kitchen towel and soak the fries overnight.
Step 2: The following day, heat the peanut oil over high heat in a large flat-bottomed pot to 300 degrees according to a deep-frying thermometer. Working in batches, blanch the fries for 4 minutes, or until slightly soft. Remove the fries from the oil and place on a platter lined with paper towels to blot excess oil. When done blanching and blotting, transfer the fries to a sheet pan and chill in the fridge until you are ready for the second fry, up to the next day.
Step 3: The day you plan on serving, partially freeze the beef tenderloin, about 45 minutes, to make the beef easier to dice.
Step 4: Fill a medium bowl with ice and water and place a smaller bowl inside it. This is where you’ll put the meat after you cut it to keep it cold and, therefore, as red as possible. Working in batches, cut the fillet into small dice (¼ × ¼-inch cubes): To do this, using a very sharp knife, cut against the grain, crosswise, into ¼-inch slices. Then stack the slices and dice them, aiming to create even, consistent cubes. Place the diced meat inside the small bowl on ice.
Step 5: Mix the beef, cornichon, capers, and shallots in a large bowl (a chilled metal bowl would be ideal here). Add the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mustard, Tabasco, and egg yolk. Finally, add the freshly cut chives and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 6: Using a large spoon, scoop the tartare onto one side of a large serving plate. Pat the tartare down with the back of the spoon to flatten it a bit. Transfer the plate to the fridge while you finish the French fries.
Step 7: For the second fry, use the same flat-bottomed pot over high heat and bring the same oil up to 350°F (175°C). Fry the fries for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are crispy. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with power towels to blot excess oil.
Step 8: Remove the plate of tartare from the fridge and, using a Microplane, grate the horseradish over the top. Serve immediately with the fries.
Recipe tested by Louiie Victa
Adapted from EATER: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes by Hilary Dixler Canavan. Text and illustrations copyright © Vox Media, LLC. Text by Hilary Dixler Canavan and illustrations by Alice Oehr. Photography copyright © 2023 by Laura Murray. Published by Abrams.