My 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.
‘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
‘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: