By Michael Pendley
Steak Diane is one of those classic recipes that was all the rage at upscale restaurants back in the 1950s and ’60s. The classic presentation used brandy, and the pan sauce was often flamed tableside for a presentation with flair.
Luckily, after falling out of style for a few decades, the dish is making a bit of a comeback these days, and my family has found that using elk instead of beef is a wonderful changeup. For this recipe, we use elk backstrap medallions and substitute bourbon for the brandy or cognac traditionally used in the recipe. I think the oaky flavor of the bourbon pairs well with wild venison of any kind. Use a high-proof bourbon if you plan to flame the pan sauce, in order to burn off the alcohol.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Four 4-ounce elk tenderloin medallions, about ¾- to 1-inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
6 ounces baby portobello or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
¼- cup bourbon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼- cup heavy cream
¼- cup beef stock
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 green onion, diced
1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Hot sauce, to taste
In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Season the elk with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about one minute. Turn the medallions and cook for one minute longer, then transfer the steaks to a warm plate and tent them with foil.
Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about four minutes. Remove from the heat, add the bourbon and carefully ignite the pan with a long match.
The initial flames can reach one to two feet above the pan, so make certain there is nothing flammable nearby.
Once the flames die down, add the mustard and cream to the pan and stir the mixture over moderate heat for one minute.
Whisk in the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, scallions and parsley, then season with salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.
Return the elk and any juices from the plate back to the pan, spooning the sauce over the medallions and simmering until the meat is heated through.
To serve, plate the elk medallions, then spoon over the sauce. A side salad and potato make this a classic steakhouse presentation.