The recent opening of a delightful little "Pan-Equatorial BBQ" near us in Louisville (Mo' Flav, on Frankfort Avenue at Cannons Lane), combined with the allure of a nice pair of Laura's Lean Beef strip steaks that called my name at the grocery, prompted me yesterday to come up with a simple, multi-cultural pan-grill procedure for 'em, one that mingles French and Italian influences with a taste of Thai.

It was just as simple as this: Paint the bottom of an iron skillet with just enough olive oil to moisten it, then gently heat a large shmooshed garlic clove in it until it's very aromatic and starting to brown. Raise the heat to high, slap in the steaks, and turn them briefly until they're just browned. Continued on high heat, add 3/4 cup leftover dry white wine (1/4 cup at a time, letting it reduce completely between each addition), along with several crushed leaves of fresh basil. Shoot for reducing all the wine in about 7 or 8 minutes, which should find 1-inch steaks nicely medium-rare at the center. Remove the steaks to a warm serving plate and deglaze the skillet with about 1/2 cup warm water to make a light sauce. Serve with a little Melinda's or your choice of hot sauce on the side for optional use.

PRIZE WINNER! This recipe won a $1,000 prize from Laura's Lean Beef, Winchester, Ky., as the best recipe of the year 1996 using Laura's products.