To make this bistro classic in my kitchen, I use a cast-iron skillet or grill pan that I get really hot, and then I sear the steak on both sides, cooking it medium-rare, which is the way I like it. My preferred cut is entrecôte, or rib-eye, and I ask the butcher to cut it into steaks that aren’t too thick since I like lots of surface area on my steaks. I rub them with chipotle chile powder to give them a bit of a smoky flavor.
It’s difficult to say exactly how long it will take a particular steak to cook to your liking since there are so many variables, but there is actually no truth to the rumor that if you cut a steak open a little and peek inside, all the juices will come gushing out and your steak will be dry. In fact, the best way to ensure a steak is dry is to overcook it. So feel free to peek inside if you need to. —David Lebovitz
For the steak
8-ounce rib-eye steaks
hickory-smoked salt, sea salt, or Kosher salt
chipotle chile powder, more to taste
finely chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
vegetable oil or clarified butter
For the mustard butter
unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pat the steaks dry and rub them with the salt, chipotle powder, and cilantro. Refrigerate the steaks, uncovered, for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.
To make the mustard butter, mash together the butter with the mustard powder and the Dijon. Form it into two mounds and chill on a plastic wrap–lined plate.
Heat a little oil or clarified butter in a grill pan or cast-iron skillet and cook the steaks over high heat, being sure to get a good sear on each side. For rare steaks, cook 5 to 7 minutes total on both sides, or aller-retour (“to go and return”).
Remove the steaks from the pan and put on plates. Top each steak with a knob of the mustard butter and some ground black pepper and serve with a big pile of frites.