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Steak Diane with Parslied Potatoes

16 very small new potatoes, about 11/4 pounds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 13-to-15-ounce boneless sirloin steaks, pounded to half normal thickness
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cognac or good brandy
1/4 cup Madeira or sherry
2 shallots
8 chives
8 sprigs parsley, preferably flat-leaf
1/2 cup beef stock

While the hot water tap runs, halve the potatoes and put in a
2-quart saucepan. Barely cover them with hot tap water and cook,
covered, over high heat, for 12 minutes or until easily pierced
with a knife. (Or put the potatoes and 1/4 cup hot tap water in a
microwave-safe container. Cover and cook in a microwave oven on
high power for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large
heavy skillet over high heat. Season the steaks with salt and
pepper. (If the butcher hasn't done so, pound the steaks between
two sheets of aluminum foil or wax paper with the side of a cleaver
or a meat pounder before seasoning.) Add the steaks to the skillet
and cook for about 5 minutes (depending on thickness), turning once
halfway through, for medium rare.

While the steaks cook, put the cognac and Madeira in a small saucepan
over low heat. Peel and chop the shallots. Chop the chives and the
leaves from the parsley sprigs.

When the steaks are cooked on both sides, remove the skillet from
the heat and add the warm liquor. Making sure not to lean over the
skillet, ignite the liquor with a match, preferably a long
fireplace-type. (The flames will shoot up briefly and die down
rather quickly. Have a skillet cover ready just in case.)

When the flames subside, increase the heat to high, turn the steaks
to coat both sides, then remove them to a cutting board. Add the
stock and shallots to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, or until
the sauce begins to reduce and lightly thicken. Reduce the heat
and swirl in 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter.

While the sauce comes together, slice the steaks and arrange the
slices on a platter. Spoon the sauce over them and sprinkle with
the chives. Drain the cooked potatoes and toss with the remaining
2 tablespoons of butter, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
Put the potatoes in a small serving bowl.

Serves 4

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