Sirloin Strip Steak Stanley

This is almost certainly the most unusual dish on the menu at Brennan’s. It’s a steak with two sauces–one a beef-and-red wine reduction with mushrooms, the other a mild, creamy horseradish sauce. The bananas are only marginally involved, along the side of the plate, browned in butter. Crazy as it sounds, it’s really a good dish. That was agreed upon not only longtime Brennan’s customers, but also by Ralph Brennan (who runs the restaurant) and Chef Slade Rushing. He changed the dish a little, but the essence remains. It’s not difficult to make at home, once you get past the marchand de vin sauce–but even that is not too bad.

The best steak and banans in New Orleans.

I was surprised to learn that steak Stanley is not original with Brennan’s, but a forgotten old dish from early in the century. I found it in a book of recipes from railroad dining cars in the 1930s and 1940s–although the recipe there is nowhere near as interesting as the one at Brennan’s. It was probably assembled by their original chef, Paul Blange. I’ll bet the constant availability of bananas in the kitchen owing to the popularity of Brennan’s original bananas Foster played a role in the preservation of steak Stanley to modern times.

  • Horseradish sauce:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. finely-grated fresh horseradish
  • 4 sirloin strip steaks, well trimmed, about 12 oz. each
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 4 bananas, preferable a little underripe but not green, peeled and slit end to end
  • Mushroom sauce:
  • 2/3 cup Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, or other big red wine
  • 1/4 cup highly-reduced beef stock or (better) demi-glace (optional)
  • 1 Tbs. Tabasco Caribbean-style steak sauce (or Pickapeppa sauce)
  • 4 oz. mushrooms (preferably portobello, shiitake, or anything else interesting), sliced about 1/4 in chick
  • 2 Tbs. tomato sauce (marinara sauce from a jar is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning

Preheat the oven and broiler rack to 350 degrees.

1. Make the horseradish sauce first. Bring the whipping cream to a light boil (use a bigger saucepan than it looks like you need, because it might foam over).

2. In a smaller saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Add the cream to the mixture and whisk until thick. Add the other ingredients and lower the heat to low. Cook for another two minutes, stirring once, and remove from the heat. Keep it warm.

3. Season the steaks with salt and pepper or Creole seasoning. Heat the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it bubbles. Put the steaks into the pan and sear them until they more-or-less unstick from the pan. (That doesn’t always happen, but if the steak is really stuck down there it’s probably not ready to turn yet.) Turn them over, tipping the pan to let to butter flow onto the spot where you’ll put each steak down.

4. After the second side unsticks (this will take two minutes or so per side), transfer the steaks to the broiler rack in the oven. If you like rare steaks, turn the heat off. For medium rare, turn the oven down to 250 degrees.

5. While the steaks are cooking, melt the 1/2 stick of butter in a second large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter bubbles. Add the bananas and cook until they’re browned–three or four minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

6. Return the pan you seared the steaks in to medium-high heat, and add the red wine. Bring it to a boil while whisking the pan to dissolve all the browned bits and juices left behind by the steaks. After two minutes, add the beef stock or demi-glace. Raise the heat and bring to a full boil. Reduce the liquid by half.

7. Add all the other mushroom sauce ingredient to the pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the mushrooms are soft. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if needed. Keep the sauce warm while waiting on steaks.

8. Place the steaks on warmed plates. Top generously with the mushroom sauce, and pour the horseradish sauce on top of that in a thin, wavy ribbon. Set a banana half on each side of the steak, and serve while saying in a loud voice, “Behold! The world’s best steak ‘n’ bananas!”

Serves four.

2 Readers Commented

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  1. RICK GEYER on January 31, 2014

    TOM, I know it always sounded contrived, but that was one of my favorite lunch specials at Brennans. I think it showed up at Commander’s Palace a few times, also. My memory of it was back in 1968 before I went on active duty with the Navy, when I tried to explain to people what it consisted of, you got a lot of strange looks. The Cuisine of New Orleans is unique and something you never forget.

    • Tom Fitzmorris on January 31, 2014

      There’s no question but that it’s a great dish.

      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris