Steak Diane May Have Been Named After A Roman Goddess

Although it is considered a retro dish, Steak Diane remains a popular choice at upscale restaurants throughout the States. If you've ever come across a Steak Diane, you'll find a simple yet elegant steak drenched in a sauce made of its own juices, cognac, butter, and aromatics. A Steak Diane starts off with thinly sliced beef tenderloins, which are pan-fried or flambéed with cognac, and then bathed in a sauce made up of Worcestershire, mustard, and butter, per Simply Recipes.

Politico observes that this dish shares an uncanny resemblance to the French steak au poivre, which is fried steak in a butter sauce made up of, you guessed it, pan drippings, pepper, shallots, butter, and sometimes mustard. Considering this, the origins of Steak Diane remain a bit cloudy, and there's little to no evidence that it was invented in France. One could surmise that it was inspired by its French counterpart, but many point to the famous Auguste Escoffier, whose 1907 cookbook is the first to mention Sauce Diane in print, per Food Reference. But what of its name, which is as curious and muddled as its origins? Well, it is said to have been named after Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt.

Not beef, but venison

Lobel's Culinary Club traces the name of this cosmopolitan steak dinner to the Greco-Roman goddess Diana. Steak Diane itself was probably invented in New York by a Francophile chef, Beniamino Schiavon, according to Politico. The spectacle of flambéed meat topped with a French-style sauce made Steak Diane a popular dish in post-WWII America. The table captain would throw cognac over a blazing cut of beef on the tableside, giving the patron both a show and a luxurious meal (via Politico).

However, this steak is quite different from the sauce that was made in homage to Diana. As the goddess of hunters and hunting, Diana was often associated with wild game or venison rather than domesticated beef. The sauce a la Diane in its original form would accompany venison, thus probably giving it its name. Food Reference states that sauce a la Diane was composed of truffles, black pepper, and cream. Perhaps even if this sauce remained the same throughout history, it would hardly represent Diana's hunting spirit if paired with farm-raised beef. You'll find that even the newly made Steak Diane has plenty of variations, although the majority have the essential elements of butter, black pepper, and shallots.