Chicago Chef Rick Tramonto's latest cookbook, Steak With Friends: At Home With Rick Tramonto, is a study in contrasts. Yes, the book, out later this month, contains recipes for all the expected steakhouse classics: onion soup, creamed spinach, twice-baked potatoes and of course, a heck of a lot of steak. But in between, you'll find more modern fare, like chorizo-rock shrimp risotto and grilled tuna with Chinese broccoli and soy brown butter.

It's a curious combination that somehow works — most of the time. The varying skill levels required to make many of the recipes could prove problematic if you've only recently graduated to an All-Clad sauté pan. Those herb butters and steak grilling tips are easy and handy, but the Filet Oscar, a filet Mignon between cookie-cutter perfect toasted sourdough rounds that's topped with crab meat salad, asparagus (tips only) and red wine sauce, had Squid Ink pining for our own kitchen crew. And much as that old-fashioned cherry pie recipe sure sounds good, we're not about to special order instant clear gel powder to make it. For a steak cookbook that touts at-home cooking, we think good old tapioca would work just fine.

Fortunately, Tramonto dedicates a generous portion of the book to fried chicken and lemon meringue pie. And we can't stop thumbing around the chapters on steak (how to cook, choose, and fancy-up with Parmesan-bread crumb toppers if you have company coming over). If you're feeling particularly flush, there's even a 5-minute “seared foie gras” topper, though we can't imagine when we'd ever consider foie gras undeserving of its own recipe (the recipe is in the general “Steak Toppers, Rubs and Glazes” chapter).

Ultimately, it's hard not to be won over by a book that suggests pairing Oysters Rockefeller — the buttery baked oysters topped with herbs and breadcrumbs at the buttoned-up Antoine's restaurant in New Orleans — with Alice in Chains. “Man in the Box” gone bivalve.

T:1 Sauce

From: Steak with Friends, by Rick Tramanto.

Note: This is Tramanto's version of A1 sauce (but you knew that). It keeps for up to 1 week, refrigerated.

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup dried shitake mushrooms

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1. In a saucepan, combine the ketchup, water, mushrooms, Worcestershire, lemon juice and vinegar. Whisk well and then stir in the onion, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and mustard.

2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 45-minutes, or until the sauce reaches a pourable, thick consistency.

3. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids. Set the sauce aside to cool.

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