The Whitehall Club’s Steak Diane | The 1970s classic that needs no reinvention

The Whitehall Club, ChicagoMy latest adventure trying out the steak recipes in Vincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes led me to a 1970s classic, Steak Diane, and this one comes from Chicago’s The Whitehall Club.

A Treasury of Great Recipes‘Chicago has been a long time living down the label pinned on it by Carl Sandburg-“Hog Butcher for the World.” The stockyards aren’t what they used to be, but meats and steaks are still superlative in this town, and a new dimension has been added gastronomically. There are now many wonderful restaurants here with fantastically varied cuisines, a few of them so popular that they have become private clubs in order to limit the crowds The best, I would say, is The Whitehall Club, one of the few American taurants ever mentioned in that Who’s Who of French gastron Guide Michelin. Elegantly paneled, and decorated with an antique wallpaper like the one used in Sacher’s in Vienna, the room manages to seem private and intimate even when it is jammed. The host-owners are the Keller brothers, Sidney and Will, men of many enterprises, but with none so close to their hearts as this excellent eating club. They and their staff not only love good food, they love sharing its secrets with other interested gastronomes Aside from some marvelous recipes, the Whitehall staff also gave me a few good cooking tips, which I happily pass on to you. Their chef’s big secret is to use shallots in everything requiring garlic or onion, except for salad. Don’t overdo any flavor use herbs and spices sparingly to let the flavor of the original food come through. And don’t overcook or again you will lose the flavor of the original Their recipe for good co Two cups care, one heaping teaspoonful of imagination and generous dashes of subtle Result? Some of the most delicious food we’ve ever eaten anywhere.’ VINCENT PRICE

Steak DianeSteak Diane

sirloin steaks
Worcestershire sauce
salt, pepper

‘Usually in Chicago you are brought enormous, thick steaks that all but come to the table wearing the blue ribbon of the steer that they were part of. So for a change it was pleasant to be served a steak that had been pounded thin and was cooked quickly at the table in a chafing dish. The Whitehall Club’s maitre d’hôtel did the steaks and their sauce so deftly and rapidly, I couldn’t wait to get home and try it myself. It really does go 1-2-3, and tastes marvelous.’ VINCENT PRICE

1 Put: 4 sirloin steaks, each about 6 ounces, between pieces of waxed paper and pound to a 1/3-inch thickness.

2 Heat in small saucepan: 2 tablespoons butter.

3 Add: 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots and cook until shallots are lightly browned. Add: 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and heat to bubbling. Keep the sauce hot.

4 Heat in 12-inch skillet or chafing dish: 6 tablespoons butter. When it begins to brown, add steaks and cook for 3 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until done to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.

Spread the shallot sauce over the steaks and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Again, this is a very simple dish and one you can master after a few tries, but it does require a good cut of beef, like a fillet. I tried it with rib eye and it came out chewy the first time. Also, you need to get the balance right with the Worcestershire and butter, as it can come out a tad vinegary. Oh, and the perfect song for this dish just has to be Fleetwood Mac’s Oh, Diane:

Steak Diane

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Steak Moutarde Flambé | A true classic from Copenhagen’s famed Belle Terrasse

Belle Terrasse TivoliA juicy steak is one of life’s greatest pleasures (unless you’re vegan – and there’s nothing wrong with being vegan). But it’s also a bugger to get right. My mother (bless her) always turned them into leather straps or stewed them to bland tastelessness, so I’m always looking for the perfect steak recipe: and one that honours the meat.

So my challenge is to explore all of the steak recipes in Vincent and Mary Price’s acclaimed tome, A Treasury of Great Recipes. There are 10, but I won’t be trying the three Tartar ones as they are far to rare for me. This recipe comes from the Belle Terrasse in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens (alas now closed).

Belle Terrasse, Tivoli, CopenhagenSteak Moutarde Flambé
‘We are inclined to think that nowhere else in the world is there beef the equal of ours. But in Denmark the beef raised on their rich farm and grazing lands is superlative, their dairy products without peer. In this recipe, rich Danish beef is prepared with a mustard sauce that utilizes the thick, heavy cream-both sweet and sour-for which the country is famous. By flaming the beef with cognac, all of the juices and flavorings are sealed into the meat, and all the wonderful brownings in the pan are loosened to become part of the sauce. At Belle Terrasse these steaks were served with French fried potatoes and a cool, crisp salad. An unbeatable combination.’ VINCENT PRICE

beef fillet
salt, pepper
Dijon mustard
mild mustard
sour cream
rose paprika

1) In skillet heat: 1 tablespoon butter, saute over high heat: 4 fillets of beef, 1/2 inches thick, for 4 minutes. Turn and sprinkle with: salt, coarsely sage ground pepper, 1/4 teaspoon rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon crumbled sage leaves. Cook to desired degree of doneness (4 to 5 minutes per side for rare).

2) Pour off excess fat from pan and cream sprinkle fillets with: 1/4 cup cognac. Ignite the cognac and when the flame burns out, transfer fillets to a warm serving platter and keep warm.

3) To skillet add: 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 4 teaspoons mild brown or
herb-flavored mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon rose paprika. Combine: 2 tablespoons commercial sour cream and 1/2 cup cream and stir into mustard in skillet. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour the sauce over the fillets and serve.

Steak Moutarde Flambé

Simply delicious: and I think it’s the herbs that really lifts the dish; plus I love mustard so the sauce is a winner. I’ve also tried using just the sour cream, and replaced the cognac with the less expensive French Brandy, and works a treat. Oh, I just love the kitchen theatre ingniting the spirit. But watch out you don’t singe anything. There’s also that sense of satisfaction that you have just knocked up a restaurant-quality dish at a fraction of the price – but don’t scrimp on the beef. Get it organic and use the best cut: fillet.

Steak Moutarde FlambéSteak Moutarde FlambéSteak Moutarde Flambé

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Pollo Alla Cacciatora | A simple, delicious supper dish from Vincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes

A Treasury of Great RecipesVincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes is packed with amazing dishes from around the globe, but the one I return to time again is a recipe for Pollo Alla Cacciatora (Chicken Hunter’s Style with Noodles), which they picked up from the famed Royal Danieli luxury hotel in Venice, Italy.

It’s amazingly simple to prepare, using the kind of ingredients that are always plentiful in my kitchen, and it tastes delicious (and at a fraction of the cost of what it probably goes for at the Danieli).

Now, the recipe does call for noodles, but as pasta is never served together with a dish like this, I usually opt for steamed rice. It also recommends using polenta, which I had never tried before – but the results (after a fun and tasty trial) speak for themselves. Check out the photo and recipe below. In the meantime, happy cooking…

Pollo Alla Cacciatora (Chicken Hunter’s Style with Noodles)

olive oil
Green pepper
dried basil
stewed t0matoes

‘Every little Italian restaurant in the United States features its “chicken cacciatora,” but it is far from being the most popular, or even the most typical, dish in Italy. At the Royal Danieli this chicken in its spicy sauce is served with noodles, as in this recipe, or with polenta, cornmeal mush, that has been cut into slices and fried in olive oil. It’s good either way. The real secret of this recipe’s excellence is the red wine added for the last bit of cooking. That’s the master touch.’ VINCENT PRICE

1 Saute: 2 chickens, about 3 pounds cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stir- each, cut into serving portions, in 4 tablespoons olive oil and 1/2 cup butter for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown on all sides.

2 Add: 2 cups finely chopped onion, 1 green pepper, chopped, 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until onion is transparent.

3 Add: 1 cup stewed tomatoes and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, cover, and ring occasionally.

4 Add: 1/2 cup dry red wine and simmer for 10 minutes longer.

5 While the chicken is cooking, cook: 8 ounces noodles in a pot of rapidly
boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, or according to package directions. Drain.

Serve the chicken and sauce over the hot cooked noodles, or better yet, with slices of fried polenta (see below for recipe).

POLLO ALIA CACCIATORA (Chicken Hunter s Style with Noodles)Fried Polenta Slices

1 quart water
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for frying
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for frying

How to Make It
Step 1: Lightly oil a 6-by-10-inch glass or ceramic dish.

Step 2: Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Cover and cook over low heat, whisking often, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Stir in the butter and cheese, season with salt and pepper and, while hot, pour into the dish. Let stand until room temperature and firm, about 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Step 4: Cut the polenta into 1-inch-thick slices. In a large non-stick skillet, melt butter in olive oil. Fry the polenta slices over moderate heat until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes per side. And you should get something resembling this…



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