On the internet today you can find at least 600 different recipes for how to cook a steak. One will tell you to bring the meat to room temperature before you place it in the pan, another will tell you to sear it for a minute then place it in an oven, while another will tell you that placing a steak in the oven is guaranteed to ruin it, and that all steak should be cooked over a hot flame, preferably on a grill, but if you’ve got a pan and a stove then that’s fine too.
For centuries, people have been making steak, and I don’t think that with hundreds of years behind it, steak has changed that much. There are different cuts of beef and of course now there are different types of cows, cows that eat grass and cows that eat corn and cows that eat other things that they print on the label so that you think you are maybe not so bad for eating that cow, but a cow is nonetheless a cow, and cows are — the last time I checked — the same as they ever were.
When I was a kid, my dad cooked a lot of steak. He had a cast iron pan and said you should always cook steak in a cast iron pan, then he cooked it in a cast iron pan. I can’t remember when I began eating steak though I am certain I was pretty young, maybe seven or eight. Little pieces at first and then they got bigger. My dad would cook it rare and give it to me that way, but I didn’t like it bloody, I liked it well-done, the way you grow up and learn to never eat steak. My mother liked it burnt and I guess I got it from her.
I make steak a couple nights a week now. I make it in a cast iron pan, one that my dad got for me when I moved out of the house the second or third time, when I finally had my own apartment, wasn’t sleeping anymore on my friends' couches and floors. Though I try to buy what appears to be good quality meat I only sometimes bring it to room temperature before I cook, and I’ve made it in the oven and on the stove but not yet on a grill and only sometimes is it great but for the most part it’s good. It’s medium well, a little red in the middle and that’s how I like it. I have never looked at a recipe and I’m not sure my father, or the millions of fathers who came before him, did either.
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