Excerpted from Esquire Eats: How to Feed Your Friends and Lovers: A Manual for Men by Francine Maroukian (Hearst Books, 2004). © 2004 by Francine Maroukian.
When you start with good beef, it doesn't take a lot of fussing to make a great steak. Usually, kosher salt and black pepper are all you need. But when you crave a livelier layer of flavor, try a dry rub. Unlike marinades, used to tenderize less expensive (tougher) pieces of meat, dry rubs add flavor to meat that is already tender. Rub the mixture into the steaks and let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour to make sure the spices are absorbed into the meat by the time you are ready to cook. (Even a thin layer of excess rub makes the surface of the cooked steaks a little mushy.)
1. Combine the mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Coat both sides of the steak with the spice mixture and let the meat sit at room temperature for at least an hour. The longer the steak sits, the stronger the taste of the spice mixture will be.
2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly film the bottom of an ovenproof nonstick skillet with oil (wiping out the excess with a paper towel) and heat over high heat until the pan is very hot but the oil is not smoking (timing depends on the size of your pan and how well it conducts heat). Using long tongs, carefully place the steak in the pan and sear until a crust forms, turning only once (about 3 minutes on first side, 2 on the flip side).
3. Place the skillet in the oven to finish cooking the steak, 8 to 10 minutes for rare, 10 to 12 for medium-rare.
4. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for about 10 minutes to allow the natural juices to redistribute. Using a knife with a thin, sharp blade, cut the meat away from the bone. Carve each portion of meat into thick slices and reassemble around the bone on a serving platter.
5. Optional deglazing: While the steak is resting, place the hot skillet over medium heat and add the lemon juice. Use a wooden spoon to mix the lemon juice with the cooking liquids, letting the mixture bubble up any browned bits that are stuck to the pan. Lower the heat and simmer until the juices are slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the sliced steak and serve.
Andrea Reusing is the creator of the restaurant Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C., and author of the book Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. In this installment of The Key 3, she shares with Lynne Rossetto Kasper the techniques behind three of her favorite recipes: Turnip Soup, Overnight Braised Short Ribs and Tomato Salad.