Traditionally this dish is cooked with a filet of beef, but that can be quite expensive! So two good alternatives are either a hanger steak or a skirt steak. Hanger steaks are sometimes hard to find (although that is what most restaurants use), but the more readily available skirt steak is a good alternative. The skirt steak is part of the same cut that the hanger steak is from, just thinner. When shopping for a hanger or skirt steak, get the thickest one you can find.
- 4–6 medium shallots (about 4 ounces), cut into ¼ inch whole slices
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 pound hanger or skirt steak (see note)
- 2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper (large cracked pieces of pepper are ideal)
- ¼ cup cognac
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt, as needed
- In a medium sauté pan place shallots, oil and butter and bring up to temperature over a medium low flame. Cook stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until the shallots are golden brown but not over cooked. (longer if needed) Place a small strainer over a bowl and strain. Do not discard fat. Lay shallots on a paper towel to dry. Warning, these are hard not to snack on so try and resist and save for the steak.
- Place the steak on a flat surface and sprinkle both sides of the steak with the cracked black pepper, pressing the pepper into the steak as best as you can so it sticks.
- In a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat, pour 1½ tablespoon of the fat you drained from the shallots. When pan starts to smoke, add steaks and do not move around. Let them sear for about 2-3 minutes per side. Reduce pan temperature to medium and cook steaks, turning as needed to your doneness. A thicker steak will take longer than a thinner steak obviously so use the poke test to tell when done. Make a fist and feel the pad of your palm. That is how the steak should feel. Squeezed tight the pad of your palm should be firm and hard similar to well done. Loosen up a bit and that is how medium would feel and so on down to soft and squishy for rare.
- Once steaks are cooked, remove to a dish to rest. Cover loosely with foil.
- Heat pan to medium and add cognac away from flame. Cognac will ignite so be careful. Scrape pan bottom and stir to get brown bits from pan. Add cream and stir until hot. Add butter and mix until butter melts into sauce. Remove from heat and add liquid that has drained from resting steaks then season sauce with salt if needed.
- On a cutting board, cut steak into slices against the grain and serve with pan sauce and crispy shallots.