“I bought a pre-seasoned steak at the supermarket,” it said. “How should I cook it?”
I wrote back the following instructions.
Place a frying pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Drop in a couple of tablespoons of fat (butter, olive oil, etc).
When the fat starts to sizzle, put in the steak. For a medium steak, cook 5-6 minutes on one side, then flip and do the same on the other.
Remove steak from pan and rest for about 5 minutes. Eat.
I received the following response: “That’s it?”
Yes, I confirmed, that’s it. I could have added a few extra steps: I skipped the “salt generously before cooking” step, because they said it was pre-seasoned, so that was taken care of. I didn’t send instructions on how to make a quick pan sauce, which is how I usually use the 5-minute rest. And I didn’t tell them to open all the windows, no matter how cold it is, because even with the fan on, I usually set off the smoke alarm when I cook steak.
But although you can add on as many extras as you want, it really is that simple to make a good steak. I was reminded of this myself a few nights later, when I made a flank steak for the first time ever. I was nervous about messing it up and ending up with a piece of shoe leather, so I spent some time trawling my online collection for flank steak recipes. After looking at about a dozen, I came back to the basic method I’d outlined for my workmate. The only things I changed were to do my own pre-seasoning, liberally salting, peppering, and garlic powdering the steak several hours before cooking. And to remember to cut across the grain when serving - apparently cutting it any other way does make it tough.
It came out great, garnering praise from steak-fiend DP and steak-skeptic Miss B, who both declared it their cut of choice from now on. I'm calling that a win-win and putting it into the regular rotation.