Sometimes the most confounding dish to re-create is a classic one. There tend to be many versions out there, and these old-school dishes call for ingredients one doesn’t have on hand.
I turned to the internet, my cookbook collection, and fellow food writers and friends. That’s when Suzy Fleming Leonard, a food writer at Florida Today, reminded me that chef Scott Earick frequently serves the dish at Scott’s on Fifth, his restaurant in Indialantic, Fla. “It’s so good,” she said.
Having eaten there, I knew his food was terrific, so I gave him a call. Turned out he was planning to visit the District with his husband, so he agreed to visit our Food Lab and teach me to make it.
“It’s one of the most popular dishes on my menu,” said Earick, a self-taught chef who has long gravitated to old-school dishes. “I’m not into trendy food. A lot of chefs like to try to reinvent the wheel. You can’t reinvent the wheel. You have to play with the wheel.
“The most difficult thing about executing the classics is that it has to be the same every time you make it,” he said. Diners know what to expect, and so you have to deliver.
“I have people who come back every year for their vacation,” he said of his 17-year-old business near the beach and the Space Coast, which attracts travelers from all over the world. Steak Diane started as a special. “I would take a little steak with the sauce out to the dining room, a little taste, and they’d say, ‘I’ll have that.’ ”
Earick’s version is fairly simple. He sears the steak in a skillet, removes it, and uses those juices to lightly cook the mushrooms, onion and garlic. He adds a splash of brandy or cognac, which he sets aflame for just a minute on the stove. (You can skip both the booze and the flame and your sauce will still be delicious.)
Then, rather than use demi-glace, a concentrated stock that is reduced until it is a deep brown, meaty flavored sauce, Earick finagles that rich flavor with pantry-friendly ingredients, including beef broth, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard and A.1. Sauce. The sauce is finished with a bit of heavy cream, and, just before serving, the steaks are returned to the pan to warm and cook to desired doneness. Not intimidating at all.
“It’s very accessible dinner-party food,” Earick said, because a home cook could sear the steaks and make the sauce before guests arrive, adding the steaks to the sauce and reheating just before serving.
If you can afford it, he strongly recommends using filet mignon medallions. If not, he suggests pan-seared chicken cutlets. His rich, flavorful sauce is tasty over egg noodles, potatoes and rice, too.
When I remarked how comfortable Earick was showing me how to make the dish, he explained that he loves to teach and he loves an audience, too. Born in Hollywood, the son of a stuntman who later helped promote a famous cheese brand, Earick was featured in a detective show in Italy for a bit and created a popular local cooking show, “Capital Dish,” which aired in the early 2000s in Tallahassee.
When the pandemic hit and he was forced to temporarily shutter his restaurant, he posted those old shows to his Facebook page, hoping to keep a connection with his regulars. When they caught on, he decided to go live on the social media site. Enlisting his husband, Hank Hutson, to be his cameraman, he did live 20- to 30-minute shows at 6:30 p.m. for 85 straight days.
“I had a captive audience,” he said. “They were trapped in their houses. All of a sudden, here’s this guy toasting you at 6:30 p.m. They were tuning in from Europe, Hong Kong, because we were all in the same boat.”
Earick and Leonard turned the featured recipes into a self-published cookbook, “It’s 6:30!”
“When we go out places, people still to this day, people still say: ‘Oh, my God, it’s you. I can’t believe how much you saved me.’ It was upbeat and not so heavy when the world was so heavy.
“I really love what I do,” he said. “And that show is probably one of the things I’m proudest of.”
In a previous version of this column, Scott Earick's husband's last name was misspelled. It has been corrected.
Storage: Refrigerate the sauce and steak separately for up to 3 days.
NOTES: Top round steaks are a less expensive, but tougher piece of meat. This dish is typically served with tender cuts of beef tenderloin, such as filet mignon. If you prefer, you can serve this sauce over pan-seared chicken cutlets, too. Place each cutlet between two pieces of parchment paper and use a heavy skillet or a rolling pin to pound until 1/4-inch thick. Pan-sear the cutlets in the oil and butter until the outside is golden and the inside is cooked through (165 degrees), 2 to 4 minutes per side. Then, proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Earick adds cognac to the sauce and flambés it, but you can omit that if you prefer.
If serving with potatoes, place 1 pound of the potatoes in a pot with just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, add a pinch of salt if desired, and boil until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a thin skewer or paring knife, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot with 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stir until well coated. If desired, use a fork or potato masher to mash them until they are as chunky as you like. Taste and add more butter, salt or pepper, to taste.
If serving with rice, you’ll need about 2 cups of cooked rice. For long-grain white rice, rinse 2/3 cup of rice until the water runs clear. Then place it in a medium, lidded saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and stir to coat the rice. Add 1 1/3 cups water and a pinch of salt, if desired, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.
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For the steak
- Four (4-ounce) top round steaks, trimmed of visible fat, beef tenderloin or chicken cutlets (see NOTES)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or another neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the sauce
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced sweet onion or shallot
- 1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated
- 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac (optional)
- 1/2 cup no-salt-added beef broth
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon steak sauce, preferably A.1. brand
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving (may substitute with 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Fine salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- Cooked rice, or boiled or smashed potatoes, for serving (see NOTES)
Make the steak: Pat the steaks dry and lightly season them with pepper. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and butter until the butter lightly browns, about 1 minute. Add the steaks and sear, turning only once midway, until nicely browned, about 4 minutes total for medium-rare. (The steak will cook an additional 3 minutes in the sauce.) Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. (If using chicken cutlets, see NOTES for preparation.)
Make the sauce: Return the skillet to medium heat and add the mushrooms, onion and garlic and cook in the steak’s juices, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms just begin to soften and release their liquid, about 3 minutes.
Add the brandy or cognac, if using, then carefully light with a long match or lighter to flambé, shaking the skillet gently until the flame dies down (see NOTES).
Add the broth, mustard, and Worcestershire and steak sauces, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, and stir until well combined. Stir in the heavy cream and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the parsley and garlic powder, stir to combine, and cook for about 2 minutes. Taste, and season with salt and/or pepper, as desired.
Return the steaks, along with any accumulated juices, to the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered, turning the meat to coat, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meat is warmed through, about 3 minutes.
To serve, transfer the steaks to warmed serving plates. Spoon over some of the sauce and sprinkle with the fresh parsley, if using. Serve with rice or potatoes, if desired.
Per serving (1 steak, 3/4 cup sauce made with cognac)
Calories: 304; Total Fat: 15 g; Saturated Fat: 7 g; Cholesterol: 98 mg; Sodium: 579 mg; Carbohydrates: 7 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 29 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
Adapted from chef Scott Earick of Scott’s on Fifth in Indialantic, Fla.
Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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