Perfect Steak

Steak is one of my favorite things to cook at home. Sometimes it's even better at home than in some mediocre restaurants.

Some people are intimated cooking steak. They lament: How do I know when it's done? How long do I cook it for? Why is it dry?

If you follow a few simple rules, you will be guaranteed a perfect steak each and every time. First, the best steak is done on a barbecue but since most of us are confined to our apartments, a good non-stick grill pan is essential. Secondly, get the pan scorching hot before putting the steak on, and coat the pan lightly with olive or vegetable oil. Season your steak with salt and pepper.

How long you cook the steak depends on its thickness. For your average steak (shell, rib or porterhouse are my usual choices), I go for approximately three or four minutes on one side and two or three on the second for medium rare. I always err on the side of undercooking it since you can always put a rare steak back on but a well-done steak is...well, the dog gets it. Finally, just like you always hear on the cooking shows, let the steak rest about five minutes before cutting into it. It really does seal the juices in.

Another great cut of steak is skirt steak, which is very thin and is best rare. This cooks in only about 1 1/2 minutes per side.

This method also applies to lamb chops, although baby lamb chops cook quickly, so I would do them about two minutes a side for medium rare.