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Sep 23, 2001 04:26 PM

Do you like your steak "Black & Blue"?

  • t

My father-in-law is constantly using the term: "black and blue" when he orders a steak "rare" in restaurants despite the fact that almost all waiters seem unfamiliar with the term. Naturally I cringe everytime I hear him contemplating steak on the menu. I maybe heard this term twice in 7 years of cooking, but I had no formal training and I wasn't at Lugers. I say this is an antiquated, local slang, similar to "Philadelphia Style" which is used to describe a method of cooking a steak rare, but is not more descriptive than what "rare" should be in the first place. Father-in-law claims it is a term all classically trained French chefs are familiar with (noir et bleu?). I don't think so.

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  1. I think your father in law is correct. However, if the waiter or the kitchen doesn't understand what he means, then he's failed to communicate his desires and is sure to be unhappy. Bleu is bloodier than "rare".

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      My favorite way to have steak.Darkly seared on the outside,next to raw on the inside.Very hard to do at home, you need a 1800 degree broiler to do this.

      1. re: Paperboy
        Owen O'Neill

        A former co-worker was fond of steak prepared by this method and often referred to it as "Pittsburgh Style". When the waitstaff didn't know that term he'd call it Black & Blue and as a last resort would spell out the specifics and yes... as so many have pointed out, it's not just rare - must be seared/charred on the outside.

    2. I used to be a waiter, and the term is familiar to me. Its steak that is seared on the outside and close to raw on the inside.

      1. Your father is very correct.

        And "saignant" is even rarer than that!

        The French are quite fond of more degrees of rareness.

        Of course, it's only worthy when the meat is exceptional. So know your steakhouse or beware.

        1. Black and Blue is an old and venerable way to order steak. It is not the same as rare, it is practically raw in the middle, heated only to 80 or 90 degrees in the center -- it appears blue. The outside looks black because it is charred black. Good steakhouses know this term; middle of the road places do not.

          1. If the waitstaff doesn't know the term black and blue when ordering steak I tell them just to tell the chef black and blue or pittsburgh blue. If the chef doesn't know either term I certainly wouldn't order a steak there and may just cancel altogether and go to a different restaurant. This is a very well known term amongst chefs even if not all waitstaff know it. If I have to explain it I've found I'm not going to get what I want. Getting the proper char to the outside while leaving the inside nearly completely raw requires very high heat which likely will not be achieved if they don't understand this fully. If a chef does not know this very common (amongst chefs at least) term I would question their level of competence honestly and most likely go elsewhere.