Flambé is a dish-finishing technique where a chef ignites high-proof alcohol to add a final flash of heat to a dish. A good rule of thumb is don’t light the dish over an open flame. Move the dish to an unused burner or remove it from the heat altogether before using a long stick or stove lighter to ignite a spirit. The technique will work with anything in the 80-100 proof range. For Steak Diane, the finishing spirit is brandy or cognac, and about ¼ cup is added to a pan sauce served alongside filet mignon.
Two 4-6 oz cuts of filet mignon
⅓ cup neutral oil (like vegetable, corn, or canola) or extra virgin olive oil
3 small cloves garlic
Optional: 1 cup of mushrooms
¼ cup brandy or cognac
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mustard
⅓ cup cream or half and half
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herb (parsley, oregano, thyme, chive or a mix)
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Let two filet mignon (you want a 4 to 6 oz cut around an inch thick) come to room temperature. Cook the steaks in ½ an ounce of a neutral oil. If the steaks are room temperature, browning the outside should take about two minutes per side or less to skew towards medium rare, adjust depending on thickness.
2) Remove the steaks to a plate and let them rest.
3) Add a 2 tablespoon pat of butter, chopped shallot and garlic, and optional mushrooms if you want. Cook 5-10 minutes, stirring so that all ingredients brown. Make sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher handy. When the shallots are translucent, remove pan from heat, add ¼ cup of cognac or brandy, stir until mixed, then, using a stick or stovetop lighter, ignite. Let it burn out or, to end, add mustard, worcestershire sauce, and cream then stir letting liquid simmer, reduce, and thicken for 5-10 minutes. Use a large spoon to pour the sauce over the steaks, and dust with freshly chopped herbs (your pick or a mix of oregano, thyme, chives, parsley, etc…).