Pan-Fried Steak

Serves 2
If you want to cook at home for a guy you like, learn to make a pan-fried steak. That and crusty bread slathered in softened butter plus a bottle of red wine or cold beer are all you need to make him happy. Serve potatoes, such as Hash Browns (page 123), and a simple vegetable, such as steamed broccoli (see page 193), and he’ll know you really care. Serve pie for dessert (see pages 223–229), and he’ll be yours forever.


  • 2 strip steaks (about 1 inch thick)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons unsalted butter


  1. Bring the steaks to room temperature.
  2. Heat a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat. Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Seconds before adding a steak, drop 1/2 teaspoon of the butter into the pan and immediately top with the steak. Repeat with the remaining steak. Sear for 3 minutes without moving the steak (to form a crust). Turn and cook for 2 minutes for rare or 3 to 4 for medium rare. Remove the steaks from the pan and let them rest on a board or platter for a few minutes before serving.
cook's note
Simple Steak Sauce: Men love A1 Steak Sauce, HP Sauce, or bottled hot sauce, mustard, or horseradish with steak. So don’t worry if you’re afraid to make sauce; you can buy it. But, if you want to make a simple pan sauce, it’s easy. Once the steak is removed from the pan, keep the heat on high and pour about N cup liquid (red or white wine, vinegar, vermouth, cognac, Armagnac, scotch, whiskey) into the hot pan, then scrape up the golden crusty bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes to reduce. If using a gas flame, be careful of a flame-up, which should burn off quickly. Swirl in a couple tablespoons of thickener (butter, cream, creamy cheese, or mustard) and simmer for a minute more. Plate your steak (on a warmed plate) and pour over the sauce. The choice of liquid and thickener is a matter of taste.

We like these combinations: • Wine and mustard • Cognac and cream • Armagnac and blue cheese • Scotch whiskey and butter
Need help with the ingredients? Check our pantry list: