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Three Cheers for Steak

Sunday night when Santa Maria was making gingerbread-cookie dough, I was cooking a quick dinner of steak, broccoli, and baked potato. This is a common division of labor in our house—Santa Maria handles the sweets, and I juggle much of everything else. Nina and Pinta go crazy for the treats she whips up, but they also applaud my efforts from time to time.

We aren’t the type of parents to do much childproofing. I’ve been in houses where there’s practically an armed guard in the kitchen, along with locks on the stove and barricades in front of the bathroom. I believe in teaching them what to watch out for, rather than trying to make the world perfectly “safe” for them.

I remind them to stay away from the stove or the oven when I’m cooking. They pay close attention. They like to be with me, but they have to be careful. Our kitchen in Brooklyn is so small that the refrigerator isn’t anywhere to be seen—it is in the hall, between the bathroom and the front door. When the four of us are in the space at the same time, it can look like we’re playing a game of Twister.

Whenever they hear the sound of something sizzling on the stovetop, I warn the girls to watch out, that the hissing and snapping mean that there’s something very hot up there. At my mother’s house on Sunday night, when I threw the sirloin in the smoking-hot frying pan, it snapped and crackled. Pinta, who was standing on a chair to my right, watching me, turned towards me and smiled and started to clap and cheer.

Stove-top Sirloin (All Thumbs Experimental Method)

I have yet to develop great skill in cooking meat, and it’s with a bit of anxiety that I post the following recipe. I wouldn’t rely on it alone—I can’t tell you how long to cook the meat, for example. I put it here to encourage people: the only way to improve is to practice. I can make a half-decent steak because I’ve tried many times before. The following worked well on Sunday night, and it’s more or less what I do every time.

  • sirloin steak, about 1-inch thick
  • Salt

Remove meat from refrigerator about a half-hour before cooking and allow to come to room temperature.

Heat a frying pan until it is smoking.

Throw a good layer of salt in it.

Toss on the steak.

Cook at high heat about three minutes, or until side is nicely charred.

Flip the meat and cover the pan.

Continue to cook for about three more minutes, then set aside and allow it to sit for about five-to-ten minutes. Slice and check a thick part. Pray that it is medium to medium rare.

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