Pan fried steaks can be a very satisfying method of cooking. As many have mentioned a large HEAVY cast iron pan is necessary. After the pan is as hot as it can get, throw in a small amount of kosher salt, and when it starts to sizzle slap the beef on.
Now you have two choices, either reduce the heat on the stove and cook at medium low or put the steaks in the oven at about 300 to 350 (depending on your ability to test the doneness of the meat). A good digital thermometer is a decent investment, but leave the probe in don't keep reinsering elsewhere to test the temp. Just leave the probe hooked up in one spot, heat WON'T hurt it. If you do keep removing and replacing the temp probe you will lose the "juciness" we all crave in good meat. Remove the steak at least 10 degrees before it's ready (about 115 to 120 degree F) because it will continue to cook during it's rest. When the thermometer peaks and has fallen a few degrees, time to munch.
My additions to this come from a friend of a family who was a senior chef at Maxim's and trained as an apprentice in several 3 diamond restaurants. While I am not NORMALLY a fan of French food this is the perfect marinade and compliment.
Marinating is a must. Even if you use dry aged meat a marinade further breaks down connective tissue and makes the meat softer. I have used this marinade on CHOICE meat and was proud even my epicurean buddies couldn't tell the difference in the meat quality. For 2, 1.75 inch thich porterhouse steaks I mix 1 cup orange juice, 3 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons pineapple juice. You can add teriyaki or soy if you choose, but it will make the meat salty which may or may not be your thing. Beleive it or not, the citrus will NOT change the flavor of the beef, just the tenderness. Split the marinade in half and soak for at least 2 hours in 2 seperate covered flat tupperware or equivilent dishes in a fridge.
Before coomking the steaks decide if you want onions, mushrooms or both for a side. Either one needs to be cooked in advance. I usually have both. Anyway in one pan add a large dollop of REAL butter to a pan at medium heat (hey if you're on a diet, you shouldn't be eating this anyway), and when it starts to brown add 1.5 pounds of mushrooms (I like using uncut full mushrooms, but it's your meal), adjust temp as needed. I know it looks like a lot, but it will cook WAY down. Stir fairly often, and when the mushrooms have given up 90% or more of their liquid, and have become brown and looking oh so tasty remove them from the pan. Now add ANOTHER large dollop of butter to the pan and put in about 3/4 of a pound of sliced WHITE sweet onions and SLOWLY carmalize them. This will take about 15 minutes, and the smell will drive you crazy. Feel free to add a clove or two of diced garlic if you want. Anyway when the mushrooms are golden and SWEET take them out of the pan and combine them with the mushrooms. Now deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup decent red wine. By deglaze that means to pour in the wine at about medium high heat and using a scraper get all the good bits adhering to the pan. They are SOOOO tasty. You may also add 1.5 to 2 tablespoons teryaki GLAZE (not sauce, it's TOO salty) for a bit more sweet and salty flavor. Reduce wine by 50% and pour over the mushrooms and or onions.
Okay it sounds like a lot of work, but while a bit time consuming, is pretty easy. Now you have your mushrooms and/or onions sitting a bowl. You have just moved your steak(s) from thier pans (remember this is for two, and you should have two pans going) to rest. Pour in 3/4 cup of wine into each of the pans and reduce the heat and scrape all the good bits from the bottom of the pans. About now you add another good dollop of butter (for texture) and make a choice. If you're all Cordon Bleu, you would just happen to have a nice veal or beef stock laying about (if you do, reduce wine by 1/4 cup and add that to your concoction now). For the rest of us that ain't happening. Now we use my friend's secret weapon. Brown gravy mix, yep, that stuff that makes the nasty brown stuff you put over mashed potatoes with an overdone roast. But it works rather well in this instance. Add about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons per pan, and use a whisk to mix it thoroughly. Beleive me, about now if it's reduced about 50% it will smell marvellous in your kitchen. Take your mushrooms and or onions and sauce and split them equally (be fair here), and let the mess cook and simmer on low heat for about 3 minutes.
Wow seems like a workout, huh? But actually even with the additional prep/cooking time for the compliment the total in kitchen was about 45 or so minutes.
Serve the compliment ON THE SIDE in a bowl, never on the steak, it will distract form the grand flavor you have just created. Notice that outside the kosher salt, I have not used any seasonings on the meat? It doesn't need them, it will be perfect!
For openers or on the side, serve a fresh baby spinach salad with blue cheese dressing with crumbles. You can even "accidently" drop a few crumbles on your steaks. Guys, or gals, this is the romantic meal that is quick and elegant. You might even get lucky if you aren't too full.