STEAKS TWO WAYS (UNITED STATES, ITALIAN)
I learned at my father's knee to be a steak fundamentalist. Steak should be rare, and it should be of sufficient quality to withstand being served rare. Lots of black pepper, then sear it fast either over coals (direct heat) or on an almost red-hot, DRY cast-iron skillet. I don't time it, going by instinct and feel; but I'd say three minutes on a side for a sirloin or T-bone of 3/4- inch thickness is about right.
That being said, I do occasionally use an alternative Italian procedure for filet mignon, a cut that's buttery tender but not always as robustly flavorful as some others: Paint your iron skillet with a very thin coat of olive oil, and bring it up to heat while moving a couple of smashed garlic cloves and a big sprig of fresh rosemary around on it. When everything is nicely aromatic, throw in the filets and turn them a couple of times until they just sear. Then start adding red wine to the skillet, a little at a time, letting it boil off before adding more, continuing the process until you've used up 2/3 to 3/4 cup, which should take six or seven minutes. At that time, a typical filet (3/4 to 1 inch thick) should be just right. Toss 'em on a hot serving plate, deglaze the pan with a little water, and pour the juices over the steaks and serve. Diners may salt and pepper to taste.