Just ate: The Perfect Steak

Nothing left but a couple bits of gristle and a strip of fat.

Nothing left but a couple bits of gristle and a strip of fat.

This is a post about tragedy and irony. And why there's a photo of an empty plate up there instead of a lovely meal.

Over twelve years ago, my wife wasn't a fan of beef. I love beef. My mother would make roast beef, burgers, short ribs et al. And I enjoy steaks and hamburgers and beef ribs and hot dogs and pastrami and—you get the picture. My wife, again, not so much. It tended to bother her stomach and that situation only got worse with time.

(That was the tragic part.)

During her pregnancy, my wife began to crave beef.  Hamburgers and pastrami, to be specific, and not at the same time. Sometimes pastrami, but most often hamburgers. During her first pregnancy, when she'd ask, "Do you mind if we have hamburgers again?" I'd "struggle" with the decision and we'd happily head to some place like Miracle of Science, in Cambridge, and enjoy a hamburger dinner. Eventually, I became quite handy with making burgers (eating out gets expensive, folks) and we could have them at home more often than out at restaurants. I even won a hamburger contest at Five Napkin Burger. But that's another story. I worried that my wife would stop enjoying beef so much after she gave birth. She did and she didn't. Hamburgers and pastrami are still favorites, but none of the beefier treats—especially steak—were on her radar.

(That was the ironic part. What follows is more tragedy.)

Because of several food sensitivities, our household cut way back on beef. My daughter was not at all interested in hamburgers or steak or beef ribs or roast beef or anything but ground or chopped beef in stir fry. As much as I'd like to just cook meals for myself, I have a family to feed—we have a family to feed. That means cooking meals that everyone can eat. Our second daughter enjoys hamburgers, but again, none of the other beef treats. Not really.

After years of beef shortages in my stomach, I get the rare occasion (see what I did there?) to make some beef for myself. It's usually a lonely celebration of meat. Tonight was one of those moments. I'd been waiting over two weeks to have meal time to myself where I could cook this one and a half pound sirloin steak I'd been gifted with. Again, a rare occasion. (Oops, I did it again!) And here's what happened to create the perfect steak. It's so simple it should be illegal.

  • 1.5 pound, thick-cut sirloin steak
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1–2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Butter
  • Parsley

Get your cast-iron skillet. If you don't have one, get one. Now. Before you leave to get it, dry your steak with paper towels and coat your steak with the salt and pepper—really push it in there and let the steak come to room temp over an hour or so. If you don't, the steak won't cook evenly. Set your oven to 400º Fahrenheit. Bring the cast-iron skillet up to hot-as-hell-oh-my-god-the-oil-is-smoking and set your steak in there. Let it sear for about 4 minutes. Turn, sear the other side. Put it in the oven for 5–6 minutes for medium-rare. Use a meat thermometer, you philistine, you don't want to overcook that steak!

Get the damn thing out of the oven because—holy crap—hot beef keeps cooking when you remove it from heat. There should be lovely, brown juices in that pan—don't discard them. Remove the steak to a plate, put the butter and parsley on top, tent with foil, and let it rest and be juicy for several minutes. In the meantime, in order to keep yourself from freaking out with anticipation, scrape up the fried bits in the skillet and mix with the juices. Pour yourself a glass of red wine. I had a lovely 2007 Viña Eguía from Spain. When you're ready to eat, pour some of the juices on top AND TRY NOT TO EAT THE ENTIRE DAMN THING. I ate about half because I have tremendous will power. And my wife was watching. Don't waste time taking a photo of it, just eat and enjoy. Like I did. (You'll thank me later.)