Before your meat cooks, it must warm. Even if you like your meat rare, it’s basic steak-cooking wisdom to start with a room temperature piece of meat to ensure the thing cooks evenly and predictably. Oh, and while you’re watching your meat lose its chill, heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Get your cast-iron skillet (Gilt MAN Essential #10, by the way) good and hot, and salt the hell out of the steak (“like you’d salt a sidewalk in New York in the winter,” Chang writes). Then throw on some—but slightly less—freshly ground pepper.
The following times are for a steak at least an inch thick, around two pounds in weight. With a hot pan and steady heart, throw your meat on the pan. Then leave it alone. Be attentive but hands off, like a good father at the playground. After two minutes, the meat should separate easily from the pan. Once it does, flip it. Do something else for two minutes. Anything but poking, prodding and jostling. After your second two minutes, lift the steak with tongs, then stand it up in the pan, fat side down—sizzling—for 30 seconds.
Put the pan, containing the steak, into the oven. Do something else for eight minutes. Stretching is always good. Crack a cold beer if you have one.
Put a mitt on your hand. (Trust us, you’ll only forget to do this once.) Take the pan from the oven and put it over a low heat. Add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, some thyme, a shallot, and three cloves of garlic. Tilt the pan—with mitted hand—at a 45-degree angle. Using a spoon, pour the butter pooled at the bottom of the pan onto the steak. You should now be salivating. That’s fine. Just don’t do it over the steak. Instead, keep basting. Do this for two or three minutes. Poke your steak. If it feels like the flesh from the web of your thumb when you’re making a gentle fist—you know the kind, like when someone’s a jerk-off and you illustrate that with a certain hand motion—it’s medium rare. Now would be a good time to take it off the heat and put it onto a plate. Cooking a nice steak any further is a sign of insufficient moral fiber.
Sometimes cooking a steak is like dating a girl in college, when she’s great but you’re immature and not ready to settle down. Sometimes, that is, you have to walk away and let it rest. Thankfully, steaks don’t go on to date other people. Don’t worry, after ten minutes, your steak will still be there and the juices will have been absorbed by the meat. And you two can finally get down to business.
Cut the meat from the bone. Cut your steak into half inch thick slices. Put these slices onto a plate. Gently reheat the pan and pour some of the fat/butter/garlic deliciousness over your steak.
Self-explanatory, but best done with gusto.
Adapted from the Momofuku Cookbook, by David Chang and Peter Meehan, $40.