A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight effectively, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Robert A. Heinlein

Today, I’m going to teach you how to cook a steak like a pro.

Those damn millennials know how to do literally nothing practical.” Okay, that statement reeks of Clint Eastwood sitting on his porch in Gran Torino.

Sure, it’s totally unfair and generalized.

And it’s mostly true.

Don’t fight me on this! How would you (or if you have millennial children) approach:

  • Changing a flat tire? “Not gonna happen. AAA!”
  • Starting a campfire? “Google it”
  • Fixing the leaky kitchen faucet? “Call someone”
  • Staying focused for a half hour, no phone? “Pfhhh”
  • Cook a meal NOT in the microwave? “…..huh?”
  • Finding a date on Tinder? “Done.”

If you are under 40 and you are like me, you’ve been waging a silent war simultaneously against your elders, your own generation, and yourself. Your elders…to prove that you know more than they are willing to give you credit for. Your generation…for saddling you with such a horrible reputation, which you want nothing to do with. And yourself…fighting against your laziness and the gravity emanating from your couch—produced by the wonders of 21st century technology.

If you are under 40 and you are like me, you are sick and tired of hearing the same old lazy criticisms and blame thrown around by the older generations. But take a step back for a second… every generation preceding us dealt with the same criticisms from elders. Uncle Jim experienced it from Grandpa Bob, and Grandpa Bob endured it from Great Grandma Ethel. There is literally nothing new under the sun from generation to generation, so why stress?

Going on the offensive

Today, I’m going to put you on the offensive. I’m going to teach you a skill that is crucial for everything from impressing your dear parents, to (guys) winning over your crush and sealing the deal by the third date (no sooner). It’s a skill that is useful in many situations, from COVID-19 isolation, to surviving out in the wild. It’s a skill ignored and postponed by every successive generation since the invention of the microwave. Today, I’m going to teach you how to not only cook a steak dinner like a pro, but how to knock it out of the park on your first try.

Earlier this week, my girlfriend (I’ve been trying to impress her in new ways for almost five years) and I decided we wanted steak for dinner. Never in my life had I cooked a steak. I’ve always been one to microwave my chicken nuggets or go out to a restaurant. I even went an entire year and a half of eating food from a restaurant (ah, the perks of managing one!) But given our self-imposed COVID-19 isolation, we have been forced into cooking our own meals on a daily basis. And yeah, there have been meals of microwaved chicken nuggets, but on the whole, we have been learning a lot about professional home cooking!

Enter Chef Joe

Having nothing but time on my hands, I decided to venture into cooking London broil for dinner one night. I had very little experience around a well-cooked steak, besides eating one like a pro. But this time would be different—I was the preparer!

Those of you know how to cook London broil, you most likely know that almost all of the preparation suggestions involve hours or even up to a full day. Given that I incorrectly assumed it would be a quick half hour process, it was to my chagrin that every single YouTube video was proposing that I marinate the steak for a few hours before cooking…and then cook it for at least an hour. Following that advice would result in a very hangry girlfriend as the best case scenario. So I had to take matters into my own hands.

(Cooking pros: you might find my approach totally wrong and have every single correction in the book ready for me. I beg you to please note that these were not normal circumstances! In fact, the way I prepared this meal could probably rival any of the best steak dinners I have ever tasted. So reserve judgment, and behold a masterpiece of greatness and creativity under pressure.)

It is also important to note, in the rented place we were staying up in the mountains, I lacked: oven pans, thermometers, garlic, onions, and time—all the “necessities” to cook London broil properly. This procedure will show what to do when missing each of these items.

Let’s dive into it!

  • Step 1: Watch a couple videos on how to cook London broil like a pro. Ignore the inconvenient parts. Rules are for schmucks.  Lay out the meat on a big plate. Season both sides generously with Montreal steak seasoning. If you so desire, sprinkle some salt and pepper as well.
  • Step 2: Preheat the oven. Set it to “broil” on high. Believe in yourself, you can do this!
  • Step 3: Put a frying pan on the stove. Spread some olive oil on the pan and set the burner to high. Sear the meat for a couple minutes on each side. This will help trap the juices for the duration and give it a nice crisp.
  • Step 4: While the steak is cooking on the stove, fashion an oven pan out of sheets of aluminum foil. Make sure the edges are folded inwards to trap the drippings from the steak. Spray your makeshift pan with cooking spray so you don’t find shards of foil stuck in your teeth after dinner.
  • Step 5: Once you deem the steak sufficiently seared on both sides, transfer it to your oven pan. Put chunks of butter (be generous) atop the steak. As the butter melts, it should produce a pool of mouthwatering glory in which the steak will soak for its time in the oven.
  • Step 6: Place your pan of steak on the top shelf of the oven. Allow the steak to broil for about 8 minutes. Do some ab workouts. Then flip the meat and allow to cook for another 8 minutes.
  • Step 7: After about 8 minutes of prep time and 16 minutes of cook time, your steak should be ready. If you are worried about whether it is cooked or not, take comfort in the fact that the steak continues to cook itself well after removing it from the oven.
  • Step 8: Throw a microwavable bag of broccoli in for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the steak thinly.
  • Step 9: Pour two glasses of your favorite wine. Plate your steak and broccoli. Season your broccoli with salt, pepper, and some Parmesan cheese. Accompany with a steak sauce of your choice.
  • Step 10: Voila! Watch the look on your partner’s face as they marvel in your culinary genius. Enjoy your juicy steak dinner, prepared in a mere 30 minutes.

Now, I don’t recommend you follow these directions in every situation. Let’s call this the emergency/isolation method. In many other situations, this can be useful in a pinch. In my case, having never cooked a steak myself, this worked like a charm.

Beyond cooking

The ultimate goal in life is to be self-sufficient and creative in times of isolation or situations of limited resources. While I don’t believe your aim in and of itself should be self-sufficiency, you need to be able to cultivate this ability for key situations. Don’t feel like you have to be a pro right away. The key is to dip your toe in the cold water. Do something bold and new just once. Then twice. Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, invite failure and learn those lessons. Soon, you will have built the confidence and the momentum to try new and exciting things all the time. And hopefully I might have played a role in sparking that fire for you in this post!

So go cook steak like a pro. Thanks for reading, and wishing you successful cooking!

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