I was intrigued by a Bon Appétit recipe for making French fries that start in cold oil and then cook slowly. If it hadn't been a reputable source, I would never have tried it, but I figured they know what they're doing. And boy, do they ever! These were probably the best fries I've ever made. However, they got done much more quickly than described, so we had our fries with our salads and then our steaks afterward. Either I had the flame too high or I made the fries too skinny.
Speaking of steaks, the other timing problem was that I tried a technique from Alton Brown, and I forgot to figure in how long it takes for the oven to get to 500°. But no matter, it was all delicious, and now we know. So here you go:
Slow-Fried French Fries
Peel 2 lb. large russet potatoes and cut into long french-fry sticks, about 3/8" x 3/8" thick. Rinse; shake off the excess water.
Put the potatoes in a large, deep, heavy pot (I used my trusty Le Creuset Dutch oven), spreading the potatoes so they're no more than two layers deep. Pour in vegetable oil to cover the potatoes by 1". Place the pot over medium heat. (I have a Viking range, which runs hot, so I put it just under medium, and they still cooked too fast.)
Cook for 15 minutes (the oil will begin bubbling gently). Continue cooking, occasionally loosening the potatoes from the bottom of the pot with a heatproof spatula, until the potatoes are very tender, 25 to 30 minutes more. After 25 more minutes, ours were done—gorgeous brown and crisp, so we never got to the next step: Increase heat to medium-high and cook until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes longer (oil will bubble more vigorously). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fries to paper towels to drain. Season with coarse sea salt, and stuff your face.
Pan-Seared Rib Eye
Place a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven and heat the oven to 500°. Bring a 1½-inch-thick boneless rib eye to room temperature.
When the oven reaches temperature, remove the skillet and place on the range over high heat for 5 minutes. Coat the steak lightly with vegetable oil and sprinkle both sides with a generous pinch of kosher salt. Grind on some black pepper.
Immediately place the steak in the middle of the hot, dry skillet. Cook for 30 seconds without moving. Turn with tongs and cook for another 30 seconds, then put the pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip the steak and cook for another 2 minutes. (This time is for medium-rare steak. If you prefer medium, add a minute to both of the oven turns.)
Remove the steak from the skillet, cover loosely with foil, and let it rest for 2 minutes. Unfortunately, ours was still mooing when we cut into it, and I think it's because it was slightly thicker than 1½ inches. When you're talking about such a short cooking time, even a fraction of an inch can matter. So we finished it off in the pan on the stove, and it was delicious. Next time I will carefully measure the steak and then adjust the oven time accordingly, or maybe the answer is to put a thermometer in the middle and be done with it.