We've always appreciated the advice that you'll get better accommodations if you stay in a basic room at a top hotel, versus the best room at a so-so hotel. So it is with steak: As Mark Schatzker, author of Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef
, explains, if you buy beef from a good specialty source (i.e., one who can answer questions about where the meat comes from and how to cook it), "cheap" cuts can be quite delicious, even if the price is slightly more than the supermarket version of the same (or even more expensive—like the tenderloin) cut.
Flank steak, aka London Broil, has long been the budget-minded meat-eater's choice (it costs between $6 and $9 a pound), because it's easy to cook and tastes juicy and flavorful. Once you've purchased your meat (figure 12 ounces per person), pan-fry it over very high heat, so the outside is seared before the inside (which is thin) overcooks. Pull it off the stove when it's medium rare (usually 4 to 6 minutes per side), let rest for 10 minutes and slice thinly against the grain.
Average cost to feed 4 people: $19