~ Tender Steak Scallops w/Herbed Mustard Sauce ~
"This is Steak Diane". That's what I said to our "twenty-something" waiter in a steakhouse not long ago. I was generically expressing my pleasure at seeing a blast-from-my-past, famous-and-favorite steak dish on a millennial restaurant menu. My comment didn't require a response. That said, it did prompt a polite, ever-so-slight nod-of-agreement, accompanied by a "if you say so lady, but I have no idea what you are talking about" look. This lead me to conclude:
A bit about Steak Diane: Prepared using common French techniques, the dish isn't French -- it's a mid-20th Century New York City all-American invention -- an American take on French cuisine. Named after, "Diane", the Roman goddess of the hunt, in essence, it is a slice of thinly-pounded, pan-seared beef tenderloin served with an earthy mushroom, shallot and mustard sauce made from the pan juices plus a healthy splash of Worcestershire sauce too. In its heyday (the 1940's) steak Diane was served in upscale black-tie restaurants and supper clubs and prepared with pomp and circumstance: It was cooked for two people, at their table, and, just before plating, a splash of brandy provided the fuel for a flambé.
A bit about steak "scallops": "Escalop" (eh-SKAL-ohp) is the French word for a very thin, sometimes flattened piece of meat, poultry or fish which requires only seconds of sautéing on both sides. Here in the USA, the term for this cut of meat is a "scallop". "Paillard" (PI-yahrd), in French, means "to pound" (and also references a lightly-pounded slice or medallion of meat, poultry or fish). It's done with a flat-sided meat mallet and the intention is not to "smash the meat to smithereens". Pounding should make it wider and thinner, just enough to make it even in thickness and break down the fibers, to tenderize and make it cook evenly. A "medallion" refers to a coin-shaped slice of meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb) taken exclusively from the tenderloin.
freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for pre-seasoning the meat
3 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon each: minced fresh chives, thyme and parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves (roughly 2 large cloves)
3/4 cup finely-diced shallots, or yellow or sweet onion (about 4 ounces)
1 1/2 cup very thinly-sliced baby bella mushroom caps (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup Madeira (a flavorful, fortified Portuguese wine excellent for cooking)
3/4 cup beef stock
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
fresh herb sprigs, for garnish
~Step 1. Note: Freezing the steaks for about two hours will make them very easy to slice in half. Here's how I do it: Remove the steaks from their packaging, pat them dry in a few paper towels, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours (no longer than that). Remove steaks from freezer, slice as directed and place the four 1/2"-thick steaks between two large layers of plastic wrap. Lightly-pound with the flat-side of a meat mallet to a thickness of about 1/4". Lightly season the tops of the pounded steaks with freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend.
In a 1-cup measuring container, stir together the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard and cornstarch. Set everything aside. Ready, set, go:
~Step 3. In a 12" skillet, melt the butter into the olive oil over low heat. Add the steaks to pan, seasoned sides down. Lightly season the tops with more freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend. Increase heat to medium-high and sauté until steaks are lightly-browned on both sides, turning only once, exactly 2 1/2 minutes per side (2 minutes for rare, 2 1/2 minutes for medium-rare). Remove steaks from skillet, place on a warmed plate, cover with foil & set aside while preparing the herbed mustard sauce according to the following directions:
~Step 4. Stir the herbs into the pan juices and allow them to cook gently, on low heat, about 30 seconds, to give them time to begin to release some flavor into the fat. Add the garlic, shallots and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring almost constantly, until shallots are translucent, mushrooms have lost their moisture and almost no liquid remains in the bottom of skillet, about 3 minutes.
~Step 5. Add the Madeira and deglaze the pan by scraping loose all of the browned bits on the bottom. Give the beef stock mixture a brief restir and add it to the skillet. Stir to thoroughly combine and bring to a rapid simmer, just short of a full boil. Continue to simmer rapidly, stirring almost constantly, until mixture has thickened, about 1- 1 1/2 minutes. To serve:
Place 2 steaks on 2 warmed plates, top w/sauce, & serve...
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)