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Master Porterhouse Steak’s Simple Perfection

A porterhouse steak on the grill. Credit: Clifford A. Wright

A porterhouse steak on the grill. Credit: Clifford A. Wright

There’s something about an old way of doing things that is just right. My friend and Zester Daily contributor Martha Rose Shulman recently sent me a recipe for broiled porterhouse steak from a cookbook from which she learned to cook, Mildred O. Knopf’s “Cook, My Darling Daughter,” published in 1959.

Knopf named the recipe “STEAK! STEAK! STEAK!” and instructed readers to:

“FIRST Buy a steak that is a steak. For instance, a 2-inch thick Porterhouse steak. Give up cigarettes for a week or give up your manicure or even your hairdo to save, if save you must, on that horrid thing called ‘a budget.’ ”

Knopf goes on to encourage the reader to seek out a good butcher and be picky about the quality of the steak. Look for a cut of meat with good marbling throughout, she wrote.

“And don’t dare make so much as a peep about the excess fat! The more, the more delicious the meat, that’s a firm guarantee. People who won’t pay for fat are paying for an inferior brand of beef. They simply don’t know (is it possible they don’t care?) that the flavor of the meat is hiding under those layers of snowy white waste,” she wrote.

Knopf goes on to argue that pinching pennies isn’t for steak lovers. Save up, if you have to, to buy a piece of steak that’s worth your money. “My plea is that you get a steak that is a steak,” she said.

I read Knopf’s recipe and I just had to have a porterhouse steak. I usually grill them rather than broil them, though. Get your steak that is a steak, then proceed.

One piece of advice: Given the expense of a top quality porterhouse steak, I do not recommend cooking it beyond medium-rare.

Grilled Porterhouse Steak

Serves 4


1 (3-pound) porterhouse steak (preferably USDA Prime), about 2 inches thick

Salt and freshly and coarsely crushed black pepper to taste

Unsalted butter


1. Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on high.

2. Sprinkle the steak with salt and pepper. Carefully lay the steak on the gas grill or about 5 inches from a very hot hardwood charcoal fire. Do not move or touch the steak for 10 minutes. Turn the steak using a grill spatula or tongs. Grill until one side has black grid marks, about another 10 minutes, and remove from the fire to a serving platter. Place some butter on the steak and spread it.

This amount of cooking time should produce a rare steak.

Serve the steak whole and slice off portions by cutting from the bone outward.

Top photo: A porterhouse steak on the grill. Credit: Clifford A. Wright

Zester Daily contributor Clifford A. Wright won the James Beard/KitchenAid Cookbook of the Year Award and the James Beard Award for the Best Writing on Food in 2000 for "A Mediterranean Feast." His latest book is "One-Pot Wonders" (Wiley).