Liberally sprinkle steak seasoning and sea salt on both sides of the steak. Put a thick layer of crushed peppercorns on a plate and forcefully press one side of the steak into the peppercorns until completely coated. Leave the other side pepper-free.
Heat an 8- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet until white-hot (put earplugs or cotton balls in your ears for when the smoke detector goes off).
Pour a tiny amount of canola oil in the center of the skillet and immediately add the steak peppercorn-side down and cook for 6 minutes. Do not move or agitate the steak or the skillet. Smoke will billow and the peppercorns will blacken. This is where the unique flavor comes from.
Flip the steak and cook for another 6 minutes. Remove the steak from the skillet and set aside on a warm plate uncovered.
Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium (the skillet will retain the heat from earlier) and add a generous pad of butter, immediately followed by the garlic and shallots, and then immediately add the mushrooms. Do not shake the pan or stir the mushrooms; allow them to sear, brown and caramelize without releasing their water. Season with salt and pepper. When nicely seared, remove the skillet from the heat onto a trivet and deglaze with the brandy (flame ups are NOT cool!) and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the heavy cream and the dry basil if using (wait to add fresh basil).
Set the skillet over low heat and cook until the cream bubbles like a volcano. Return the steak to the sauce peppercorn-side up, to warm it up (for medium rare or medium).
Remove the steak and place on a warmed plate or, if sharing, slice 1/2-inch thick slices at a 60-degree angle to the cutting board. Pour the sauce around or under (but not on top of) the steak. Top with the fresh basil if using and the cheese crumbles, and then serve.
Sirloin, filet mignon, hanger or skirt steak can be used in place of the NY strip steak. Although the steak seasoning at Rays the Steaks is a secret recipe, they use a mixture of salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion, smoked paprika and ground turmeric. You can make your own version of the seasoning or use your favorite store-bought steak seasoning. For medium-well or well-done steak, use the same methods and cook times, but use a steak that is no more than 3/4-inch thick.
This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.