Classic Bistro Steak, Reinvented

Rochelle Bilow


This recipe reminds us of the adage, “Things don’t have to be bad to be better.” Our version of supper takes a bistro classic—steak with onion rings—and lightens things up with the addition of watercress and a savory-sweet hazelnut vinaigrette. The onion rings get a makeover, too, with apple cider vinegar and buttermilk turning one of our favorite sides into a light, ultra-crispy showstopper. As for the beef? Intensely flavorful hanger steak gets the royal treatment with salt, pepper, and quick sear. This is simplicity at its most elegant.

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Vinaigrette, steak and sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut, walnut, or olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar, divided

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 1½ pound hanger steak, center membrane removed, cut into 4 equal pieces

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, coarsely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons dry green peppercorns, coarsely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Onion rings and assembly:

  • Vegetable oil (for frying; about 3½ cups)

  • ¾ cup buttermilk

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large onion, sliced ⅛” thick, rings separated

  • 6 cups watercress leaves with tender stems

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Vinaigrette, steak and sauce:

Whisk hazelnut oil and 1 Tbsp. vinegar in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Set vinaigrette aside. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper and cook 6–8 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes. While steak rests, cook butter and shallot in same skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until shallot is softened and starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add thyme and peppercorns. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar and ½ cup water and simmer until flavors meld and sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 2 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and whisk in mustard; season with salt and pepper.

Onion rings and assembly:
Fit a medium saucepan with thermometer; pour in oil to measure 3”. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°.

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Meanwhile, mix buttermilk and vinegar in a shallow bowl. Place flour in another bowl or baking dish; season with salt and pepper. Toss onion rings in flour mixture, shaking off excess, and transfer to a wire rack. Working in batches, dip in buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl; toss again in flour.

Working in 2 or 3 batches and maintaining temperature of oil, fry onion rings until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per batch. Let drain on paper towels; season with salt.

Toss watercress with reserved vinaigrette. Thinly slice steak against the grain. Serve steak with sauce, watercress, and onion rings.

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