[Photograph: Romulo Yanes]

Here's a scenario that we're sure at least a few of you are familiar with. A big, beautiful steak catches your eye at the market, perhaps a dry aged ribeye or a well marbled locally raised T-bone. After a bit of inner dialogue (those things aren't cheap), you take the plunge and buy a steak. Then a moment of panic hits: How am I going to cook this thing? What if I overcook it and all of its beefy deliciousness is ruined?

To resolve this beef-related quandary, we present Mark Bittman's Grilled or Broiled Steak from How to Cook Everything The Basics. Meat plus salt and pepper plus heat equals a great steak. No fancy stuff, no elaborate technique, just a broiler or a grill, and a knife to test the steak's doneness, and you're done.

What Worked: This is what Mark Bittman has to say about steak: "In a nutshell: salt, pepper, meat, heat, eat." It's a simple formula for a super successful steak experience.

What Didn't: Not a thing; we couldn't agree more with Bittman's steak methodology.

Suggested Tweaks: Here are Bittman's suggestions:

Pan-Cooked Steak: A little more forgiving than using the higher-heat method: Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Prepare the steaks through Step 2. When the oil is warm, put the steaks in the pan (they won't sizzle), seasoned side down, and sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper. Cook until the edges begin to turn brown, 5 to 10 minutes, then turn and cook until the steak is at least 1 shade redder (or pinker) than you like, another 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook, turning once, until each side is seared a little, less than a minute total. Remove from the pan, let rest, and serve with the pan drippings poured over all.

Pepper Steak (Steak au Poivre): Before Step 1, coarsely grind 1 tablespoon black pepper and melt 1 tablespoon butter. Salt and pepper the steaks as described in Step 2, pressing the extra pepper into the raw steaks, then brush both sides with the butter.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of How to Cook Everything The Basics to give away.


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