This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
It requires courage in the light of our knowledge and almost daily experience for one to assert that there is no reason why every beefsteak that is put on the table should not, so far as cooking is concerned, approach the ideal steak. "Subscriber" writes from far Louisiana to know how his cook may be instructed to give him a good beefsteak. A member of my own family has brought the cooking of this article of food to what we consider perfection. The first requirement is not so much a tender and juicy steak, though this is always to be devoutly desired, but a glowing bed of coals, a wire grid-iron - a stout one, with good-sized wires - a double one, so that you can turn the steak without touching it. The steak should not be pounded; only in extreme cases, when it is cut too thick and is "string3'." Attempt nothing else when cooking the steak; have everything else ready for the table; the potatoes and vegetables all in their respective dishes in the wanning closet or oven, with the door left open a little way. From ten minutes onward is needed to cook the steak. The time must depend on the size, and you can easily tell by the color of the gravy which runs from the steak, when gently pressed with a knife, as to its condition.
If the master of the house likes it "rare done," when there is a suspicion of brown gravy with the red, it will be safe to infer that it is done enough for him; if, as is generally the case, the next stage is the favorite one, remove the steak from the grid-iron the instant the gravy is wholly of a light brown. Remove it to a hot platter, pepper and salt to your taste, put on small lumps of butter, and then for two brief moments cover it with a hot plate, the two moments being sufficient to carrv it to the table. One absolutely essential factor in the preparation of good beefsteak is that it must be served at once. If "Subscriber" can impress it upon his cook that she is not to let the steak stand and steam while she is doing other things, he will be likely to receive his reward fur so doing. If he can inspire his cook with a desire to excel, if he can induce her to believe that it is worth while to take pains, he will do an even more important work than to produce a delicious steak. I often think that a good cook must belong to one or two orders - she must be a Christian of great conscientiousness, or a person of abundant culture, whose sole delight is to do well and with thought whatever is undertaken.
While busy at the grill, showing everyone present how it is done to a turn, the following query has often been put to the writer: "Will you impart the secret how to grill? for my cook is a very good cook, but she cannot produce me a satisfactory chop or steak." Of course, every cook in a private family does not prefer the frying-pan to the grid-iron, because it is more convenient. Oh no! I am not going to say anything of the kind. Some of my querists have gone so far as to have an apparatus fitted up after the fashion of the well-known type of the public grill, but with no better result. What is to be done? I will tell you. The operation is perfection, for it is simplicity itself, and simplicity is perfection. "Turn, turn, turn away; that's it, boy" (for I was a boy once); "you cannot turn them too often," so said my tutor, old Tom Brown, the celebrated grill manipulator of the then universally known Joe's Chop House, of Finch Lane. It is impossible to give any stated time for grilling anything; there is but one method of judging when the articles are properly cooked, that is, by bringing into play what the illusionist finds indispensable, viz.: the sense of touch. Strange as it may appear, these two arts go readily hand in hand.
Now, reader, all you have to do is to practise.