I buy this cookbook several years ago which enchants me as I see a very popular recipe therein. Called Steak Diane, it is all the rage in
restaurants back in the 1950’s and 60’s. This beefsteak makes a lovely entree but what sets it apart from other steaks is its distinct preparation technique. Like the popular Crepes Suzette, Steak Diane is a flambé dish prepared tableside on a trolley (called a gueridon). The theatrics of the tableside cooking coupled with the flaming cognac makes Steak Diane a dining sensation. New York City
The flambé process offers a captivating demonstration for onlooking diners, but aside from that charming amusement it also improves the taste, given that ignited alcohol intensifies the sauce’s flavour. It does this through a chemical process called carmelization, which causes the sugars to undergo complex changes, whilst for our purposes results in exponentially more deliciousness. Alcohol boils in a pan at 212F but igniting it directly raises the temperature to 300F +, which in turn elevates the flavour aspect to a more celestial dimension. All right, enough already.
If you want to add some excitement to a dinner party you could serve this retro dish. Not only will your guests be enthralled by the flambéing, which they probably haven’t experienced for awhile, they will also savour the taste of this elegantly finished beefsteak. Flambeing is not complicated, but please observe basic safety considerations just as you would when lighting a fireplace or whatever. You don’t want to meet your local fire department by accident, ne c’est pas?
Adapted from Craig Claiborne of the New York Times cookbook:
Steak Diane serves 4
4 (3-ounce) filet mignon medallions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon clarified butter, or:
½ tablespoon butter plus ½ tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons minced shallots or the white part of scallions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup sliced white mushroom caps
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup reduced beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Bring the beef to room temperature. Season the beef medallions on both sides with the salt and pepper. Let sit 5 minutes prior to cooking.
Melt the butter/oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the meat and sear for 45 seconds on the first side. Turn and cook for 45 seconds on the second side.
Lower heat a little to prevent scorching. Add the shallots and garlic to the side of the pan and cook, stirring, for 20 seconds.
Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft, 2 minutes. Place the meat on a plate and cover to keep warm.
Depending on how you want your steak cooked, you can use your hand to judge doneness. Take your non-dominant hand and press your index finger to your thumb. Touch with the other hand. That is how the meat should feel for cooked rare. Thumb and middle finger for medium rare, thumb and ring finger for medium and thumb and little finger for well done.
Off heat, tilt the pan towards you and add the brandy.
Tip the pan away from yourself and ignite the brandy with a match.
When the flame has burned out, add the mustard and cream.
Mix thoroughly and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the beef broth and simmer for 1 minute.
Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.
Return the meat plus any accumulated juices to the pan and turn the meat to coat with the sauce.
There you have it. If it’s okay to play with matches you can make a spellbinding beef presentation that delights the eyes and the taste buds one after the other.
Steak Diane goes well with a simple sautéed potato dish or a rice pilaf. Just remember to observe caution with that open flame.