Monday, March 16, 2009

Cooking With Rickey: Steak Diane, Dish of the Huntress

In our latest installment, we pay tribute to a long lost dish from a bygone era: Steak Diane. This is one of those 1950’s dishes that nobody cooks anymore but absolutely should because it’s incredibly tasty, albeit ridiculously caloric. It’s the sort of thing that Don Draper from “Mad Men” would consume on a regular basis, in between all the oysters rockefeller, martinis, cigarettes, and general awesomeness. (Ms. Henderson frequently jokes that Rickey would've felt right at home in the late 1950's and she's absolutely correct. Much like Christopher Walken in the cinematic opus "Blast From the Past," the modern world frightens and confuses Rickey).

Not being gastronomical historians, we're going to venture a guess that Steak Diane draws it's name from Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt (well, uh, either that or Wonder Woman). If Rickey's Edith Hamilton serves him correctly, Diana was known for her strength, beauty, and hunting prowess. One day she was bathing in the wilderness when a hunter happened to stumble upon her. Enraged, she responded in perfectly proportionate measure by turning the poor schmuck into a deer. This story explains two things: 1) why most men prefer playing those lousy Deer Hunter videogames in bars to the real thing, and 2) why women get so mad when guys accidentally walk in on them when they're in the bathroom. Fast forward to the 1950's, when Diana lent inspiration to one of the most savory meat dishes of all time. A meal that became a big hit due to its flamboyant preparation and pseudo French roots. A meal that sorely needs to be worked into your repertoire.

A big reason why Rickey enjoys this recipe is because it requires only one pan. We're not sure about you, but the sort of multitasking that cooking on several burners at once requires can be occasionally daunting. You're constantly worrying: is that part done yet? How much time is left for this part of the dish? Am I forgetting something? Why is that sparrow on the windowsill peering into my soul? The one pan approach in this recipe does away with all the fuss. It's simple, easy, and a great way of impressing your significant other. For this dish, you will need the following items:

2 good sized filet mignons
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons minced shallots
1 cup shitake mushrooms
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 cup brandy or cognac
A fire marshal and/or fire prevention plan consisting of evacuation procedures in the event you set your entire kitchen ablaze

Start off by heating a promethean cast iron pan to medium high and adding some olive oil and butter. A heavy regular pan will do in a pinch, but given the fact that a Lodge cast iron pan only costs $25, there's really no excuse for not owning one. You cheap lazy bastard.

Embrace your inner OCD child and remember to do all your prep work beforehand. Chop up your shallots and shitake mushrooms.
Arrange the meats on a plate. Take a picture of them.
Mmmmm look at that marbling... The flavorful veins of fat running through the tender meat... Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom.... fap fap fap fap fap fap fap...

Ahem, anyway, now we will pan fry the fillets. And for the love of god, remember to open up the kitchen window and turn on your stove fan before proceeding to this step. If you're like the Hendersons, then your octogenarian Yugoslavian landlady has installed smoke detectors in the apartment which emit ear piercing klaxon noises when you so much as cast a glance in the direction of the kitchen stove.

Curse you, foul overly sensitive smoke detector. You are the bane of Rickey's culinary existence. Rickey loathes you with the light of a thousand suns and a million moons.

Remember to season your meat with some salt and pepper right before cooking it. Start off by pan frying your fillets in a heavy pan in the butter and olive oil. When the meat has seared for 2 minutes on each side, remove it and place it in the oven on warm.
Add more butter, some chopped shallots and the shitake mushrooms to the pan and cook until softened. Then add heavy cream to the pan, the dijon mustard, the wostershire sauce, and stir until bubbly and golden. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Then toss the steak and any accumulated juices back into the pan.

Cook for 2 minutes or so (4-5 for medium doneness) and then, for the coup de grâce, get your brandy ready: It says Hennessey on the label, so you just know it's good. Hennessey, the preferred drink of English Lit professors and rappers alike! Folks, there's comedy, and then there's purchasing a flask of cognac at your local liquor store immediately after a two hour workout session at the gym.

Shopkeep: uh, why are you all sweaty and smelly?
Rickey: because I'm jonesing for a stiff drink and only sweet sweet Hennessey VS will sate my unquenchable thirst, now fork it over!

To quote the immortal Xzibit song, "[Rickey] can drink a whole Hennessey fifth, some call it a problem but [Rickey] calls it a gift." Anyhow, add a liberal splash of the cognac to the pan, back the fuck up, and carefully ignite it. Voila, you are now a culinary wizard in the eyes of your significant other. Either that, or you're now on fire and running frantically around the kitchen like a panicked flaming dervish rueing the day you took cooking advice from a misanthropic lunatic who writes in the third person. Please note that your reading of this paragraph constitutes a legally binding agreement not to sue Rickey for property damage caused by fire.

Flambéing, by the way, is not just for show. (It's also a great way of demonstrating your familiarity with French accents!) Actually, igniting the alcohol in any recipe intensifies the flavor of the finished sauce. How? Well, our good friend caramelization is at work. Rickey will now channel his inner Alton Brown to attempt to explain this to you. See, when you caramelize something at 300 degrees or higher, the intense heat causes the sugars in the dish to undergo a series of chemical changes, thus elevating your sauce into another flavor dimension altogether. The resulting product of the flambéing is unctuous and savory beyond any measure of description. Also, it looks very cool. Behold: Assuming you haven't scorched your eyebrows off, cook the dish for a few more minutes, and serve it up with some well buttered and salted potatoes. Rickey opted to skip the vegetables, because there's really no point in pretending that this is a remotely healthy meal. Enjoy.

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Smitty said...

First, I respect that you did this with no other veggies. The only reason I get a salad at a restaurant is because it is a social norm. It's "included." In ultra-fancypants restaurants, where it is a la carte, I skip it. Because why? Just...why.

Next, you have given me my "date-night" recipe to try with Mrs. Smitty. can't wait.

Mike said...

Bravo! Great dish, great photos, great post.

And even though I JUST finished dinner I'm now starving. You bastard.

Adam said...

Ouch! My arteries!

I'm also starving. No man should wield this much knowledge... you are the Prometheus of steaks!

Bob said...

"Voila, you are now a culinary wizard in the eyes of your significant other."

Unless, like me, your significant other is a vegetarian on her way to being complete vegan. She also insists on raising our three year old veggie. I am so outnumbered.

This looks like a great recipe. My only feeling is that a fine filet mignon is so damn good and so rarely eaten by me that I don’t like to cover it with a sauce.

Statler said...

I'm going to make and eat the shit out of this.