julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

They Don’t Call it TOP Sirloin for Nothin’!


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” – Julia Child

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a thick juicy steak, so that’s what we had last night to bring our wonderful 3-day weekend to a close. I made Julia’s Biftek Saute Bercy (pan-broiled steak with shallot and white wine sauce) with a side of Pommes de Terre Sautees (potatoes sauteed in butter) and corn on the cob. All I can say is, STOP THE PRESSES! HOLD EVERYTHING!! Whatever you were planning on making for dinner tonight, you may as well just set it all aside because THIS, my friends, is what you need to make instead. I kid you not – this recipe blew me away, and I can promise you’ll have the same reaction. Here’s how it went…

Potato Olives?

I steamed the corn on the cob – no big thing here. While those were cooking away, I turned my attention to the potatoes because I knew they would take longer than the steak. I peeled about a pound of potatoes, then paused at Julia’s next direction. I had to read it a few times, and even then I had to get a second opinion from Ben to determine how I was supposed to interpret these instructions. Julia called for me to cut the potatoes into “elongated olive shapes”. This turned out to be trickier than I thought it would be – I spent the next ten minutes with a sharp knife, whittling away at these potatoes as though they were blocks of wood. Trying not to be wasteful, I quartered each potato and worked to make each fourth into a round oval shape – in retrospect, I was probably just supposed to cut one whole potato into one olive shape, but that would have been a lot of waste, so I don’t feel too badly about the way I handled this task. Besides, in the end, they turned out fine, so whatever.

I put some butter and oil into a pan and, when the butter stopped foaming, I tossed in the potato “olives” and let them grow golden brown on one side, then shook the pan to roll the potatoes around and brown another side. I continued this practice for about five minutes, then reduced the heat and put a cover over the pan and let the potatoes cook this way for about 15 minutes (giving the pan an occasional shake to keep the potatoes from burning).

Top Sirloin

While the potatoes cooked, I set to work on cooking the steak. We purchased a huge, beautiful top sirloin from the grocery store yesterday morning, and couldn’t wait to have it for dinner. I tossed some butter and oil into a pan and set the meat (which I first dried with paper towels) into the pan. I let it cook on one side for about five minutes, then turned it to cook the other side. The last time I made meat this way, I followed Julia’s timeline and the meat was waaaay undercooked for our liking. So this time, I let it cook longer than The Book called for – in the end, I was glad I’d done this, because the meat turned out perfect! I cut into it at one point while it was still in the pan and could tell it needed a few more minutes. During that time, I went back to the potatoes, added a little salt and rolled them around in the pan one last time. I drained the fat from the pan, then added a little butter, chives and pepper to flavor the potatoes, gave the pan a good shake and that was that.

Not long after, the meat was ready to come off the stove. I set it aside on a big serving platter while I worked on the white wine sauce. After draining the fat from the pan, I added a 1/4 cup of Vermouth to the pan and set it back over the heat on the stove – I used a wooden spoon to stir all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then removed the pan from the stove and stirred in some butter, salt and pepper. The sauce thickened nicely and I knew we were ready to put everything together.

The steak was so large, I cut the meat into thirds and set a section on two plates. I added an ear of corn to each as well as a helping of potatoes, then spooned a healthy amount of sauce over each piece of meat, poured two glasses of Merlot and we were ready to dig in.

Make this TONIGHT!!

Ben started with the potatoes (no surprise there) but I went straight for the meat. The second I bit into it, I closed my eyes and smiled. And died a thousand deaths. I know because angels were singing and harps were playing. It. was. delicious. It was seasoned perfectly and packed with flavor, and the sauce on top was perfect – not too little, not too much. (I’ll admit now that I went back for seconds and was glad that while standing at the meat counter at the store, Ben decided to buy a bigger steak than what the recipe called for – hooray for leftovers!)

The potatoes were the biggest surprise of all. I didn’t know what to expect – I thought they would have the consistency of boiled potatoes. On the contrary, the golden outside had a slight crispness to it, but the insides were soft, like breakfast potatoes. They were well-seasoned and full of flavor, and unlike any form of potato either of us had ever eaten. They were so easy to make, and such a delight, that I’ll definitely make these again.

This meal easily ranks among our Top 5 Favorites so far in this Julia Child project. Remember my dad’s rating system for determining whether a meal is truly “excellent”? If each part of the meal can stand on its own as an “excellent” dish, then the overall meal is considered excellent. This meal definitely qualifies. And the best part is, everything was so stinkin’ easy to make!! It’s definitely one of those dinners that doesn’t take much effort, but is sure to impress your dinner guests. There are no excuses to not make this meal – it’s a must. Because you can get such large cuts of meat, this could easily feed a party of your closest friends, or win over your boss, or it could make a wonderful romantic dinner for two over candlelight and soft music. Either way, I need you to pinky swear that you’ll look up this recipe and make it. Soon. Like, this week. I promise, you won’t be sorry.

Just be sure you don’t have anything important to do after you eat this meal – because all you’ll want to do afterward is lie on the sofa in a meat-induced drunken stupor, rubbing your satisfied belly, and repeating the words, “That was SO good!” with a stupid smile on your face. So on second thought, maybe you shouldn’t make this for your boss after all. But if you were ever going to lose your job over a meal, I tell you friends, THIS meal would be worth it.

Resuming my place on the sofa…


Today’s French Lesson:
“Je suis trop pleine de se déplacer.”

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “They Don’t Call it TOP Sirloin for Nothin’!”

  1. Margaret says:

    I read several days of posts yesterday and it inspired me to do more with the dinner I was planning (a small beef tenderloin and boiled potatoes and a salad). I made the scalloped potatoes you did the other day and decided a good provencal sauce was called for on the beef. I DO like it pretty pink so the part on our outside grill was only like 9 minutes. THe potatoes were done and smelled wonderful. I took small “baby bella” mushrooms and removed the stems. I finely chopped 1/2 a yellow bell pepper and about 1/2 of a small white onion and carmelized them in butter, added maybe 3/4C red wine and a little Sherry, and then placed the caps upside down for 2 minutes before turning them so the caps were up and covered and let them sit on very low simmer for the rest of the time til the steak was done. I placed the buttons on the tenderloin on a pretty platter to let them “rest” while I upped the heat on the saute pan and reduced the sauce, swirling in 1 Tbsp butter mixed into just about 1 tsp cornstarch (better for you than flour by a little) and let it thicken. Wowsers! It was a faboo dinner instead of just a ho-hum dinner thanks to YOU and your Year with Julia!!

    • Jessica says:

      Margaret, this is wonderful!! Your description literally made my mouth water…sounds delish! So glad I could help you think outside the box for your yummy dinner. :) Thanks for sharing this!! Can’t wait to try your ideas myself!

  2. Melanie Ridings says:

    Dear Jess, I saw your post on FB about your steak so I had to check it out before I could go to sleep. I’ll try this recipe in the next 10 days or so – after we recover from the beef coma we’ve been in this weekend – (haha – we were able to take Megan and Peter to Blue Ridge Grill on Saturday night too!). Glad The Arlington was good – will call you this weekend to discuss the holidays – have a great week! Bon Appetit! Love, Melanie

Leave a Reply

To subscribe via email, enter your email address:

Powered by WordPress | Find Wireless Deals at BestInCellPhones.com. | Thanks to iCellPhoneDeals.com Free Cell Phones, Find Highest CD Rates and Incinerador De Grasa Revisión