This is Part Two of my two-part Vincent Price recipe revival and I have to admit, this is the one I was really looking forward to. Yes, the Unwealthy Wellington was a blast to make, but this recipe, the Steak Diane, includes three of my favorite ingredients:
1. Red meat
3. Open flame
As we discussed earlier this month, Vincent Price was not only an accomplished actor but also an accomplished chef and spent the latter part of his career in the kitchen. With multiple cookbooks and a cooking show to his name, he was formidable not only in the horror world but in the culinary as well, with his recipes a regular staple in Sunday newspapers across the country.
Case in point, his Steak Diane.
Steak Diane, at its most basic, is a pan-fried beefsteak covered with a seasoned pan juice sauce and then flambéed, usually tableside. It's believed the dish was originally conceived in the early 1900s and became wildly popular during the late '60s and '70s as part of the tableside-flambéed fad that swept the country.
The recipe is fairly simple and straightforward with a minimal amount of ingredients and prep. I will warn you, however, that it's incredibly messy. While many restaurants did their flambéeing tableside for patrons, for the home cook I would strongly suggest keeping the flames in the kitchen and have proper safety equipment nearby.
So let's get started!
Per Vincent Price's original recipe, you will need:
- 4 1/2-inch-thick tenderloin steaks (about 3 oz. each)
- 3 tbsps. butter
- 2 tbsps. shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsps. brandy
- salt & pepper (finely ground)
- chopped parsley
You will also need:
- 1 small sauce pan
- 1 larger frying pan
- 1 meat mallet (or pot)
- Waxed paper
- Cutting board
- Long lighter or strand of spaghetti
Per Vincent Price's original directions:
Using a wooden mallet or a flat side of a broad knife blade, pound the steaks between pieces of waxed paper until they're about 1/4 inch thick. Set them aside.
in a small saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. butter. Add shallots and cook them until lightly browned. Add Worcestershire sauce and heat to boiling. Keep hot.
In a large skillet, melt remaining 2 tbsps. butter over high heat. When it begins to brown, add steaks. Cook for three minutes. Turn and cook two to three minutes longer.
Add brandy to pan. Very carefully light with a long match, then shake pan until the flames subside. Arrange steaks on plates. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Spread shallot sauce over steaks and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Okay, let's get this adventure started!
First thing I did was buy the meat ... and prices have gone up significantly since this recipe was posted, so be prepared. Four nicely cut 1/2-inch-thick tenderloin steaks set me back almost $40. This better taste good ...
Next I picked up brandy at the store. I'm not normally a brandy drinker, so I went with the airplane bottles my grandmother used to slip in our Christmas stockings when she thought my parents weren't paying attention. Thanks, Gram! Each bottle is just about 2 tablespoons so it's perfect. I grabbed three, just in case.
Now, because I have no meat mallet and was a little hesitant to use our largest knife to pound the steaks flat as it wasn't nearly as large or as sturdy as I was afraid I'd need ... I substituted the bottom of my sauce pan.
Boom. Worked great and had the added benefit of scaring my dogs out of the kitchen.
The basic preparation of the recipe is really straightforward. The shallots sauteed down beautifully and the entire house started to smell delicious.
Frying up the tenderloins was a bit harder ... not from a physically difficult standpoint, but from a purely emotional one. I love red meat and the sight of these absolutely gorgeous slabs of beefy awesomeness sizzling away in a butter bath for six minutes total made my heart hurt a little.
But forge on I must! For the sake of being faithful to the recipe, I sacrificed two steaks and cooked them exactly as directed.
The moment of flaming truth had arrived. I poured in the brandy and used a long strand of spaghetti to safely ignite it.
I don't recommend standing directly over the pan when lighting it as the flames were impressively high, easily reaching at least two feet at their peak.
A few swishes of the pan and the brandy burned off.
I plated up the steaks, slathered them with the sauce, topped it with the parsley, and took a bite.
Hmm ... not bad ... The shallot sauce was tasty but the meat, having been pounded flat, cooked for six minutes and then flambéed, was a little tougher than I would have liked. On top of that, the flavor was somewhat masked by the shallot sauce. Good thing I had two more steaks to try.
I cleaned up my pans and set about dicing more shallots and melting down more butter. This time I substituted white wine for the brandy, but instead of using it to flambée the steak, I simply deglazed the pan with it. I also cut the cooking time down from six minutes to just around four total, with two minutes on each side.
This time the steak was absolutely delicious. Lightly seared with a delicate white wine taste and a savory crunchy crust, the center was soft and pink and fork tender. The shallots, instead of being overwhelming, were a complement. I would happily make this again.
Should there ever be a next time (which based on Round 2 I believe there will be) I would try a different cut of meat, skip pounding it thin and substitute white wine for the brandy ... but other than that, my evening with Vincent Price was another one for the books!
Oh, and have fun cleaning up. Even with a splatter guard and grease screen, this stuff gets everywhere!
Ugh. I spent 45 minutes cleaning grease off the oven knobs, the range hood and even the ceiling.
(Total side note/fun fact: Vincent Price grew up as the child of a candy manufacturer and the grandson of the inventor of baking powder. Who knew?!)