You know those many scenes from movies and TV where a couple sits at a fancy restaurant, while their server cooks a food right next to them and lights it on fire? Chances are good this is the dish being prepared: steak Diane. This dish actually started in the early-to-mid 20th century here in the good ol' USA, when a fad swept the country for restaurants to impress their customers by cooking fancy dishes right there at the table. The ingredients in steak Diane certainly support this, because you don't have to mix together every spice, one at a time. The main ingredients in the sauce are dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Both of these, of course, can be conveniently kept in bottles and brought out when convenient. While cognac or brandy are part of the sauce, lighting the liquor to flambé isn't essential…but it does provide some flash and sizzle, to impress your guest or your date. It's easy, it's flashy, and it tastes very good. That makes this a perfect date night dish.
Everyone who prepares steak Diane does it differently, but most versions go for the flambé because it's flashy and entertaining. Here's one version I've tried.
Pans needed: cast iron skillet; plus a trivet, for resting the hot pan safely in front of your guests. This is an important part of the process. Restaurants usually use a special tray with a small flaming range to prepare steak Diane; but of course, most folks don't have that at home. However, many folks do have a cast iron skillet. This is another reason why cast iron is the best tool for cooking steak: after removing the steak from the pan, use the same pan to prepare the steak Diane sauce. The heat retention of the pan is important for producing a properly cooked steak Diane sauce.
Of course, you'll need to cook a steak! You can prepare the steak Diane sauce during the final wait, after the steak has been removed from the pan and is resting for five minutes. However, be sure to begin the preparations for steak Diane before you actually cook the steak.
Slice shallots and mushrooms thin, so they will cook quickly. Prepare garlic, if you're mincing it by hand. This can be done in advance, as the preparations are made for cooking the steak.
Just before cooking your steak, pour 1/4 cup cream into something nice, such as a glass bowl, ramekin, or the like. The cream will come to room temperature while your steak is cooking. In a second bowl or dish, mix together 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Likewise, place the parsley into a tiny ingredient bowl. This way, you can keep them on a tray and bring them out when you prepare the steak Diane sauce in front of your guests.
The brandy should also be room temperature; it's harder to flame when chilled. Have it ready to serve, either from the original bottle or in a gravy boat or other serving container.
Bring your cast iron skillet to searing temperature – about 600 degrees Fahrenheit, which is easily achieved by heating the pan on medium heat (yes, only medium heat!) for about ten to fifteen minutes.
You'll need a space to prepare the sauce safely, such as setting up a separate tray in your dining room and using a trivet to rest the hot pan. This can be done during the final few minutes before your steak is finished cooking. Set out the brandy, cream and parsley, so it will be ready to add to the prepared sauce.
Cook the steak! Add a small amount of cooking oil (I prefer corn oil) to the pan, and it should start smoking in only a few seconds. Add the steak to the pan. Flip the steak once per minute, flipping it a total of five times. After the third flip (after four minutes), add a tablespoon of butter to the pan. Melt the butter and baste the steak as you cook it for the final two minutes. This will cook the steak evenly on both sides, with the steak in the pan for a total of six minutes. The steak will be rare at this point.
Don't turn off the stovetop heat when you remove the steak from the pan, as we're not finished cooking.
Remove the steak from the pan and cover it with a foil tent and let it rest for five minutes. Now, it's time to prepare the steak Diane sauce.
Add sliced shallots the to the pan, and mix into the drippings from cooking the steak. They should brown and soften very quickly. Add garlic. Add a the Dijon-worcestershire sauce mixture, and mix it all together. Add the mushrooms, and everything in the sauce for about 30 seconds to one minute. This will happen very quickly!
Serve the steak!
You can now prepare the final step in front of your guests. Take the hot skillet off of the stovetop, bring it into the dining area and set it on top of the trivet. Pour the brandy into the hot pan, and light it. The flame will burn off quickly. Mix everything in the pan while the flame is burning. When the flame is out, add the cream to the skillet and mix it all together. The sauce will take on a warm light brown color. Sprinkle parsley and mix it in. Add the steak to the sauce, turn it over to coat both sides in the sauce, and let it simmer in the hot pan for one minute.
Serve and enjoy.