Preparing Steak Diane at home for a classic show-stopping dish

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Steak Diane was popular back in the ’50s and ’60s at most of the fancy restaurants, but this fabulous dish can easily be made at home.
I prefer using strip steaks pounded down to about one-half inch thick, if needed. If you prefer, tenderloin also works well.
I remember being really impressed with the theatrical antics arising from the flambéing of the cognac that was used to make the sauce. I would suggest that you confine the “flaming” part of it to your stovetop, instead of exposing your guests to the “show” at tableside. Just have all your ingredients lined up on the counter beside the stove and they can enjoy watching your culinary skills flamboyantly prepare their entree from afar.

Don’t forget the Caesar salad
Before serving Steak Diane as your main event, though, a classic Caesar salad is in order.
In restaurants, a large table is wheeled out with a large wooden salad bowl and all the ingredients spread out on a tablecloth. The server mashes peeled garlic cloves against the sides of the bowl using a spoon, and then removes any remaining bits of garlic, leaving just the garlic oil on the sides of the bowl to season the salad. He then repeats the process using anchovies, but leaves any pieces in the bowl.
Dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, pepper and egg yolks are added and whisked, followed by slowly drizzling in the olive oil and mixing until a creamy mayonnaise-type dressing formed. Lettuce, croutons and Parmesan cheese are added and tossed.
Let the party begin.

Classic Steak Diane
This recipe can be for two to four people, depending on the size of your steaks.
2 (8-12 oz.) strip steaks
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large shallot, minced
2 oz. cognac or brandy
1/2 cup veal or beef stock
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsps. cold butter
Chopped chives, as needed
Brush the steaks on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over high heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil just starts to smoke, add the steaks and sear until the first side is browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and sear the other side. Remove the steaks and cover with foil or place in a 200-degree oven to keep warm.
Add more oil to the pan, if necessary, and sauté the onions. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cognac. Either tilt the pan so the flame ignites the alcohol or use a match. Once the flame subsides, add the stock and mustard, bring to a boil, and then simmer until reduced by at least half. Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce and then the butter. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Add the steaks back to the skillet and cook briefly on each side to heat up and become coated with the sauce. Sprinkle with the chives and serve. Makes 2-4 servings.

Steak Strips Diane
Instead of using strip steaks or filet mignon, you can use tender sirloin steak strips browned in butter and then combined with mushrooms and an easy wine sauce from the drippings.
2 lbs. sirloin steak, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
4 Tbsps. butter, divided
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
3 Tbsps. white wine
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Sprinkle steak strips with salt, dry mustard and lemon pepper. In a large skillet, melt three tablespoons of butter. Brown steak strips in two batches. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Brown mushrooms and remove to the same platter.
To the drippings, add remaining butter, wine and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring, until hot. Pour sauce over the steak strips. Serve with hot cooked rice. Makes 4 servings.

Classic Caesar Salad
The salad dressing is prepared in a large wooden salad bowl and then the lettuce, croutons and Parmesan cheese are added and tossed together for serving.
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 cup olive oil
3 cups croutons (unseasoned)
2 large cloves garlic
8 anchovy filets
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. coarse ground salt
2 egg yolks from large eggs (at room temperature)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or shaved
Trim the romaine lettuce of bruised or browned leaves, and then cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces. Wash and drain lettuce, pat dry and refrigerate for 30 minutes to crisp the leaves.
Place peeled garlic cloves in a large wooden salad bowl and mash the cloves against the sides of the bowl with the back of a wooden spoon. Rub the pieces against the bowl until they begin to disintegrate. Remove most of the mashed garlic from the bowl and discard (oil from the garlic will remain in the bowl and flavor the salad).
Add the anchovies and repeat the procedure used with the garlic, but leave the anchovy pieces in the bowl; add the dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, pepper and egg yolks. Blend well. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, mixing with a wire whisk until a creamy mayonnaise-type dressing forms. Add the lettuce, croutons, Parmesan cheese and salt. Toss everything together and serve directly. Makes 4 servings.

Bananas Foster
This classic dessert was made famous at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans. The flames created by the flambéing made for a real tableside show-stopper.
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liquor
4 bananas, halved lengthwise, then cut in half
1/4 cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
Combine the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a skillet and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liquor, and then add bananas to the pan. As the bananas begin to soften and turn slightly brown, carefully add the rum and cook it with the sauce, stirring, until the rum is hot.
Carefully tilt the pan to ignite the rum, and flambé the dish. After the flames have subsided, remove the banana pieces and place 4 pieces on each of the scoops of vanilla ice cream. Top with the sauce and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, e-mail him at nharding@brunswickbeacon.com.