Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Sauces»French»Beef»Sauce Base for Steak Diane Demi glace Recipe

Reduced to the level of bad dinner theater, this legendary tableside showpiece was in need of a revival. Could we give this tired classic a new life at home?

The Problem

Why would anyone want to make steak Diane--a pan-seared steak demanding a rich sauce based on an all-day veal stock reduction--at home? Fifty years ago, it was a hot menu item at fancy restaurants, prepared tableside, and it included a burst of pyrotechnics supplied by a match and some cognac. Today's recipes require the above-mentioned labor-intensive sauce, an abundance of butter and cream, and varying amounts of shallot, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.

The Goal

To develop a recipe for a quick stock, to slim down the sauce, and to determine the best cut of steak and a foolproof method for cooking it. In the end, to sit down to a dinner of tender, perfectly cooked steak napped in a deeply satisfying pan sauce--having done it all in less than an hour.

The Solution

Use flavorful strip steaks, pounded to a 1/2-inch thickness and weighted with a heavy skillet to ensure even browning. Make a quick veal stock substitute using tomato paste, vegetables, red wine, herbs, and a combination of canned chicken and beef broths, well-reduced to intensify flavor and thickened with a small amount of flour. Use that faux veal stock to make the sauce right in the pan, adding cognac (flamed to sweeten the sauce and balance its flavors), Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire, and finish with butter (just 2 tablespoons).