Somedays, all you want for dinner is a solid, salt-and-peppered steak (with a side of vegetables, of course). My two favorites cuts for meats nowadays for nearly mistake-proof steaks are the classic filet mignon or a nice ribeye steak with some solid marbling, bone-in optional. If we’re going off of cost, I’d definitely recommend the ribeye as the marbling throughout that particular cut of meat lends itself to beautiful, “fat = flavor” result.
I highly recommend getting a good cut of meat because if you do, all you’ll need to cook a delicious stovetop steak is salt, pepper, a touch of oil/butter, and garlic (optional). I used to go the stovetop-to-finish-in-oven method and while it works, if you can get away with only using the stove, why wouldn’t you? One of the most important things, I’ve started doing is taking the steak(s) out 30-45 mins prior to cooking to allow them to come closer to room temperature. About halfway through the resting period, I season with ample amounts of salt and freshly ground pepper. Once they’re about room temp, heat up your cast iron – I use Lodge cast iron skillets which are quite reasonably priced – and when its nearly “there”, add your oil (canola, vegetable, or safflower oil work great – but probably not olive/coconut oil due to low smoke point).
When its starts shimmering, lay down your steak. If there’s no immediate “sizzle”, the oil probably wasn’t heated enough in which case, remove the steak and allow oil to heat, and repeat. Some guides will recommend that you flip the steak every 30 seconds or minute – I tend to follow more of the let is sizzle and build that delicious crust for ~3 minutes on one side, then flip and let sizzle for another ~3 minutes – working off of the assumption the steak is around 1-2” thick. Only after those ~6 minutes (you should adjust for thickness of steak) do I start the regular flip-every-minute. I know there are those that are able to test how cooked a steak is simply by touching — I simply have not managed to figure it out yet so I cheat with a cooking thermometer; if you don’t already have one, usually a decent one doesn’t cost too much and they’re useful for all sorts of cooking-related matters. I usually aim for a steak that’s around 140–150 °F which is about medium-cooked. If you prefer closer to medium-rare, aim for 130-140 °F and likewise for medium-well, aim for 150–155 °F. When the thermometer reads around 130 °F, I’ll add some freshly chopped garlic and a pat of butter (usually around 1 tablespoon-worth) and start basting the steak to completion.
Once all that’s done and it’s the right temperature, remove from any source of heat (including the cast iron itself) and let the steak rest for approximately 5 minutes prior to eating. Once rested, bon appétit!