08/29/2014 10:30 am ET Updated Oct 29, 2014

The No-Fail Way to Cook Steak (Hint: It Involves Butter)


by Adina Steiman

By the end of summer, you've probably hit your fair share of barbecues, spent a fair amount of time at the grill, and made your way through an avalanche of (often contradictory) advice on how to master the time-honored art of outdoor cooking. But there's a truth that the most honest grillmaster is reluctant to disclose: Unless you're a true grilling savant, the best way to cook a steak flawlessly is actually indoors, using the humble stove.

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That's the trick that cookbook author and food stylist Diana Yen uses to make her foolproof Porterhouse steak and here's why.

It's all about control. Hitting precise cooking temperatures when you're messing with smoldering charcoal can be a challenge. Searing the meat in a skillet makes the task easy: When the oil starts to smoke in the pan, it means it's hot enough to add your steak.

You can butter-baste your steak. If you try to baste your steak on the grill, you risk flare-ups and consequent generalized panic. In the skillet, you just add a pat of butter after you've seared the meat on both sides, and spoon it briefly over the steak. Pro tip: Add a bunch of hardy herbs like rosemary or thyme to the pan with the butter, and you'll develop even more flavor.

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Hit perfect doneness without breaking a sweat. The direct heat of a grill can mean that steaks go from underdone to overcooked in the brief minutes when you're cracking open another beer. But cooking steak in the pan means that you can transfer it to the even heat of the oven after it's seared--which means you've got better odds on achieving perfectly cooked steak.

And best of all, mastering steak at the stove means you can enjoy it even after summer's long gone.

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