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Steak Pauline (The Steak Formerly Known as Diane)

As you may know, I haven’t posted for a while due to the sudden passing of my mother, Pauline. It’d been a tough few weeks, but she was the ultimate, “the show must go on” kind of lady, and so that’s what we’ll do. She had multiple surgeries in recent years that made it difficult, and often painful, to move around her kitchen. Despite this, she’d still somehow manage to bake a cake (or two), or make a big batch of cookies to bring to whatever family event she was attending.

While cooking and eating with family was her greatest joy, she also loved going to restaurants. Going out for dinner on Friday night was one of our great family traditions, and while I don’t remember having Steak Diane cooked table-side, this dish represents that bygone era for me. Looking back, I realize this weekly respite meant much more to her than just a short break from cooking and dishes.

Before I get into the recipe, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for all the amazing thoughts and prayers I received during the last couple weeks. I’ve never met the vast majority of you, but nevertheless, it felt like I was hearing from hundreds of old friends, who somehow knew exactly what to say. There’s no easy way to lose someone you love, but your kind, comforting words, gave me strength.

With that in mind, I present this incredibly delicious, Steak Diane, which I’m hereby renaming Steak Pauline, in my mother’s honor. Of course, there’s no official way to do this, except to simply do it, and hope it catches on. Even if it doesn’t, at the very least, many years from now, while surfing the web, I’ll stumble across a recipe for it, and I’ll smile, thinking of her.

The procedure here is very straightforward, and relatively safe, except maybe for the exploding fireball step. As long as you turn off the flame, and keep your eyebrows at a safe distance while igniting the liquor, there shouldn’t be any real danger, and all those Oo’s and Ah’s are well worth the risk. Hey, that’s what insurance is for.

However, the pyrotechnics are very much for show, and if you’re concerned, you don't have to ignite the cognac. The alcohol will still evaporate as the sauce boils, and the end result will taste the same. By the way, even if you don’t ignite the pan with a lighter, it can still flame up when you turn up the heat to reduce, so you still need to be a little careful.

If you do decide to make this, I hope that above and beyond calling it “Steak Pauline,” you will also enjoy it surrounded by the people you love. While the flames in the pan eventually die out, the smiles they ignite, and the memories they produce, will be with you forever. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 portions:

For the sauce mixture:
1 generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup demi-glace (Or substitute 2 cups rich, low-sodium or salt-free chicken broth. It will take longer to reduce, but will still produce a great sauce. Just be careful with the salt.)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
two (8-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, fully trimmed, pounded to 1/2-inch thick (top sirloin will also work nicely here)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons finely minced shallots
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon sliced fresh chives

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authorI teach people how to cook. Don't let the chicken suit fool you. I have skills. Some skills.