I love French Bistro cooking; it makes me very happy. In fact, bistro cooking should make all of us happy. It’s comforting, generous, convivial and unpretentiously rooted in French tradition. How can anyone not like that?
I became familiar with bistros while living in Paris and Geneva for 10 years. Found in every neighborhood, the bistro was the go-to restaurant for consistently delicious food. Welcoming, bustling and casually elegant, the bistro was home away from home: soothing in its predictability, its well-worn ambience and its dedicated timelessness. Now, years later, there isn’t a bistro in our neighborhood, but it’s the cuisine I seek out in restaurants and enjoy making at home.
Skirt steak with shallots or Bavette aux Echalotes is a classic item featured on bistro menus. The less expensive and very tasty cut of meat is pan-fried on the stove and then served heaped with sautéed, caramelized shallots. It’s quick to prepare, delicious to eat and economical on the wallet. Perfect bistro fare.
Bistro-Style Skirt Steak with Sautéed Shallots – Bavette aux Echalotes
4 skirt steaks, approx. 8 oz. (250 g.) each
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 large shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
1/3 cup (80 ml.) red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish
Use 2 skillets (or cook in 2 batches): Heat one tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in each skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 steaks to each skillet, making sure they fit in one layer without overcrowding. Cook, turning once, until seared and cooked through to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to platter and tent with foil to rest.
Add one tablespoon olive oil to each skillet. Divide shallots between the two skillets and sauté over medium heat until golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Combine shallots in one skillet. Add red wine vinegar and cook until liquid is absorbed. Add one tablespoon butter, thyme and any juices from meat to the shallots. Cook, stirring, to incorporate, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange steaks on individual plates or serving platter. Top with shallots. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Serve.