Over the years, Jim and I have celebrated many special occasions in Colorado Springs at one of the Broadmoor Hotel’s restaurants or the Peppertree Restaurant. Often one or both of us would order the chutney pepper steak, which was flambeed at our table. An advantage of tableside preparation is that you get to watch the pros and ask questions. I took notes so I could make it. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought this would be a good time to share this recipe.
The Broadmoor uses Armagnac, a brandy produced in the Armagnac region of France. Unless you plan to make chutney pepper steak once a month or you like Armagnac for an after-dinner drink, you may not want to devote the shelf space to a 750 ml bottle in your one-butt kitchen. Once I used a 50 ml bottle of cheap brandy and it worked out fine. That’s about half of what the pros use, but I didn’t want too much fire in the small space of an RV kitchen. If you are cooking outdoors or in a large kitchen, you could use about one-third cup.
When I first started making this dish, I melted butter over medium-high heat before adding the steaks to the pan, just like the table-side chefs do. Then I read an article in the March & April 2020 issue of Cook’s Illustrated ran an article entitled “The Easiest, Cleanest Way to Sear Steak.” Andrew Janjigian said, “How do you pan-sear strip or rib eye without making a grease-splattered mess and setting off your smoke alarm? First, forget everything you know about steak cookery.” Forgetting everything I thought I knew about cooking, I put the steaks in a cold (not preheated), nonstick pan without butter and cranked up the heat to high. After cooking for 2 minutes on each side, I turned down the heat to medium and continued to turn every 2 minutes. I added the butter just before adding the chutney.
Active time: 15 minutes Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Specialized One-Butt Kitchen Utensils
- You’ll need a skillet to saute the steaks. When my old non-stick skillet started sticking, I checked reviews on Cook’s Illustrated. I bought the one they rated the highest out of the 10 they tested, a Non-Stick Skillet with Lid made by OXO Good Grips. The 12-inch skillet works well for this recipe, and it also comes in 8-inch and 10-inch sizes.
- Test the steaks for doneness with a Digital Instant-Read Meat Thermometer.
- Use one of those Wand Lighters to flambe the steak with brandy.
- 4 (6-oz) center-cut beef fillet steaks, about 1½-inches thick, at room temperature
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 9-oz jar Crosse & Blackwell’s Major Grey’s Mango Chutney (or more! If I’m cooking for two, I’ll use the whole jar.)
- ⅓ cup Armagnac or brandy (Use the full amount outdoors or in a large kitchen. In the confined space of an RV kitchen, I’d recommend about half of that. A 50ml bottle of brandy is sufficient for a lovely flame.)
Cover all sides of the steaks with freshly ground black pepper. Let them sit at room temperature for one hour before cooking.
If your RV smoke alarm is as sensitive as mine, you may want to run the fan and open a window or two for this next step.
Place the fillets in a cold (not preheated), nonstick skillet. Turn the heat to high and cook on each side for 2 minutes. Neither side will be browned at this point, but it’s time to turn the heat down to medium. Continue to flip every 2 minutes until browned. Since the fillets are thick, turn them on their sides occasionally for even cooking. They will need another 6 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness of steaks and desired doneness. According to Cook’s Illustrated, “Steaks should be sizzling gently; if not, increase heat slightly. Reduce heat if skillet starts to smoke.”
Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness, around 125 degrees for medium-rare, 135 for medium. Add butter to the pan. When the butter is melted, stir in the chutney.
Put the brandy into a microwave-safe dish and heat it for about 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave, then pour the warm brandy into the pan. Remove the pan from the stove and put it on a hot pad in a safe place, away from anything flammable. Dim the lights to appreciate the romantic flames, then use a wand lighter to flambé with Armagnac or brandy. Use caution when cooking with fire. After the flames die out, stir the sauce well, then scoop it atop the fillets for serving.
Enjoy your chutney pepper steak!