Saturday, January 3, 2009

Recipe: Steak Diane (or Chicken/Pork/Turkey Diane)

Today's world food that you can prepare in your home kitchen is Steak Dianne. This widely popular dish seemingly comes from the annals of French culinary tradition. Perhaps even as far back as the middle ages. However, its lineage isn't clear or straightforward and much to the chagrin of many a French chef, the modern and popular version of Steak Diane (much like the Chinese dish of General Tso's Chicken) may have come straight out of New York City! Hey, let the food historians battle it out over details. I'm in this game for the eats!

This particular recipe comes my way via my friend, Dave "The Food Ninja" (photo to the right). You may remember Dave from the "Academica Steak Sandwich" recipe elsewhere on this blog. There I described how, through his powers of discreet and diligent observation he was able to get the recipe for those sandwiches for himself and good friends. On that occasion he plied his craft to quickly get a great recipe for a much-loved and simple, everyday food. I'll thank him now for that (thanks Dave!) For the recipe below however, Dave had to push his talents to the extreme. The Food Ninja gets what he wants, the Food Ninja will not be denied.

The whole affair started years ago at a favorite restaurant of ours in Providence, RI. We all had our favorite dishes there. My own being Oysters Rockerfeller and Beef Wellington, for the Food Ninja it was frog legs and Steak Diane. Supremely, it was the steak Dianne. He got it all the time, and each time, the moments between him ordering it and it arriving drove him a little mad. He would fidget in his seat and squirm in anticipation and then it would arrive and he would be in gourmet ecstasy. Time and time again, year after year, the ritual played itself off with nary the slightest variation. Finally, he decided he had to get the recipe and prepare it for himself. Not just any recipe, but THAT recipe. The Food Ninja went to work.

"How?" you may ask (if you care). I'll tell you how. He got a job washing dishes there that's how! Several nights a week after his regular 9 to 5 he'd schlep his way to Providence, don the white smock and apron and enter the steamy dishwasher's station and get covered in leftovers and slop until midnight. Week in, week out, he'd sacrificed his free time, his family and the small pleasures of leisure just to get closer to that recipe.

His ruse was perfect. He was so dedicated that his work at the dishwasher's station got him promoted to busboy. In kind his work there after a short while led to a choice of opportunities as either a waiter (much coveted) or as a line cook. He jumped at the opportunity to cook knowing it would bring him closer to his sacred recipe. A recipe from the chef's own book, a book the chef kept by his side, a book he protected from all prying eyes.

Weeks passed and while over time the general preparation of the recipe revealed itself, he still didn't know all the ingredients. He bided his time. Soon he celebrated his first anniversary working at the restaurant and while his experiences there taught him much (he was lauded for his Cherries Jubilee), and earned him some extra cash, what he desired most still eluded him. Then one day came the break he was waiting for.

A new line cook was preparing to flambe some coq au vin when the full bottle of cognac slipped from his hand and broke on the stove top. Flames shot high into the vent hood and that triggered the automatic fire extinguishing system. The chef was furious and in the resulting confusing and commotion of foam, flambe, mushrooms and chicken The Food Ninja struck. He quickly opened the book and scribbled what he needed to know. Afterward he finished his shift and quit that evening turning in his apron. Despite another promised promotion, he never returned to the restaurant. He didn't have to, he had gotten what he wanted and now you have it too.

Steak Diane (or Chicken/Pork/Turkey Diane)

1-2 lbs Beef Tenderloin, Pork, Chicken or Turkey pounded in 1/2 flat cutlets
Dijon mustard
2-3 shallots (chopped)
4-5 garlic cloves (chopped)
6-7 mushrooms (chopped)
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1-2 Tbs sweet butter
Tabasco sauce
1-1/2 cup of brown gravy
1/4 cup light cream
Parsley (chopped)

Liberally spread some mustard on both sides of your selected meat. Use just enough to cover the meat.

Preheat a skillet large enough to to fit all the meat, when hot add the olive oil. When the olive oil begins to shimmer add the meat and cook it. If using beef cook just short of desired level of doneness. If using other meats cook almost entirely. When finished remove meat from the skillet and set aside.

To the skillet add: shallots, garlic, and mushrooms, season with a little salt and pepper to taste and sauté for a few minutes until the ingredients are cooked.

Now, (with a fire extinguisher close at hand) add the two shots of brandy and light with a grill lighter or tip the pan towards the stove flame. Let it burn until the flames subside. When flames are gone stir the pan, scraping up any bits from the pan.

To the sauté mixture add the gravy, Worcestershire sauce, several dashes of hot sauce and a heaping tablespoon of the Dijon mustard. Bring this all to a simmer then add the butter and the light cream and blend it well. Add the meat back to the gravy mixture and warm through.

Plate with the sauce and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
Recipe: Steak Diane from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

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