Steak Flambé

Steak Flambé or, in our jargon, Biftec Flambé was a special dish that my Uncle Phillip, the black sheep in our family, would conjure up. And it could explain some of his success with woman. Uncle Phillip was a ladies' man extraordinaire; and as such he was a devotee of spectacle. Part of this explains the flambeing, or flaming of food at the table. That and a good bottle of wine would win over any woman's heart, or so he claimed.So, the next time you want to impress friends, family or your partner, give this recipe a try. Uncle Phillip would approve. It should be noted that a chafing dish or electric skillet can be used when preparing this dish; and it gives pizazz to any occasion.

If you're flaming at the table, it's prefer that you have the sauteed onions and seasoned steaks already to go beforehand. Then finish it off at the table. Also, let me add a plug here: this recipe is from my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Perseus Books - Running Press). If you want to get more of Uncle Phillip's recipes or any of the other family gems, check it out.


  (Steak Flambé)

4 club steaks (8 ounces per steak), about 1/2-inch thick
1 cup beef broth
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons brandy or dark Puerto Rican rum

1. Wash meat and pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a small dish, heat 2 tablespoons of broth. Sauté onions on medium heat, until tender (about 3-4 minutes).
3. Add the rest of the broth, but reserve 3 tablespoons. Lower heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a mortar, crush peppercorns, garlic, oregano and salt.
5. Using heel of hand, press seasoning onto both sides of club steaks.
6. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons broth in a large skillet. Sauté steaks, over medium-high heat, for about 3 minutes on each side (for rare steaks).
7. Lower heat, pour brandy or rum over the meat. Stand back and touch a lighted match to the liquor.
8. Serve when flame goes out, with sauteed onions spooned over.
    Yield: 4 servings.

Note: Some experts contend it's a good idea to heat the liquor before lighting in the dish. Uncle Phillip, for his part, just poured in the spirits and set it aflame. Use whatever way suits you.

Photo: Courtesy of The Literate Chef