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Pittsburgh rare

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Does anyone know what Pittsburg rare is when related to cooking of steak? How is the steak prepared?

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  1. It's a steak that's charred black on the outside and bloody, almost totally raw on the inside. It's supposed to be how the steaks turned out when the Pittsburgh steelworkers would cook meat on the furnace or on pieces of hot metal. I may be wrong, but I think the way people make it these days is to grill a steak to almost rare, then bring it really close to the coals for a few minutes to burn the outside.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ninrn

      define charred. Black and bitter or spots of char?

    2. sometimes also called "black and blue."

      7 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Correct. Charred on the outside and less than rare in the middle. I vaguely recall reading/hearing a good way to cook a steak this way at home is to freeze the steak slightly before cooking it (or even go right from the fridge to the grill/pan). That way you can leave it in the pan/on the grill long enough to get a nice crust on the oustide but without warming up the center.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          I believe it's only called 'blue' when blue cheese is added. Otherwise it's just blackened, right?

          1. re: mojoeater

            No, the blue refers to the the meat... it has that bluish tint of raw meat, because it is raw and cold inside. No cheese involved.

            1. re: mojoeater

              Blackened is a seasoning....as Vac said, the Blue means the raw inside.

              1. re: chefschickie

                Blackened is a seasoning, but the "black" in "black and blue" just refers to the char on the meat. No seasoning involved.

                I guess if a Cajun and a Cheesehead got together they could cook up a blackened and bleu steak, but that would be a different animal from the classic Pittsburgh preparation.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  haha, I know, I was commenting on Mojo... :)))

            2. re: hotoynoodle

              Agreed, Pittsburgh style "black and blue" is charred on the outside and almost cold rare inside.

            3. i prefer my steaks this way. I usually refer to it as black and blue. You really get the true taste of the cow in my opinion. The texture too is what i am looking for, especially with a filet.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MVNYC

                I like my steaks rare too... just put it on a plate and run it through a warm room and bring it on out...


              2. This is exactly how I like my steaks to be cooked, but I've never heard the term before (I'm in California). Is it a local/regional term?

                1 Reply
                1. re: ricepad

                  I'm in the same boat. I live in Phoenix and have only heard it described as either black and blue or charred extra rare. Well, there's also "Hold it up to the grill just long enough for it to get nervous" and "Lop a chunk off the cow, I'll ride the rest home."

                2. I love my steaks Pittsburghed. My late and unlamented brother-in-law turned me on them.

                  You've got to get things super hot to get that char, though, so it's hard to manage at home. One thing that worked for me was an Alton Brown tip: preheat a cast iron skillet or grill pan to the highest temp your oven can manage and make sure it's really preheated, have a hot burner waiting on top of the range and when you pull the smoking hot grill pan out of the oven, put the steak on and flip it just as soon as you get a decent amount of char.

                  And when you're finished eating, spend half an hour cleaning up the kitchen. It's worth it.

                  1. This is the way i prefer a really really good, well aged steak. But a really well aged steak is almost an impossible thing to get. And once you have one in hand - realize that it is a supreme art of cattle raising to obtain the quality and it is something that is akin to a national treasure! Pittsburgh rare (sometimes also called black and blue) should be presented at the table with a mostly black surface. When cut into it, there should be a very thin layer of cooked surface and a cool to cold interior - not a frozen interior! I prefer the interior of the steak to be cool to the touch starting at bout 1/8" from the surface (and preferably less than that). To get this presentation, one has to understand the "aging" process - the way that a steak is aged has a lot to do with the final result - dry aged steaks will grill up nice and crisp on the outside and will have a higher probability of leaving the inside nice and cool/cold. "wet aged" steaks will start to steam under the intense heat and you will have a steamed steak - unless the searing temps are in excess of approx. 500 degrees - and even then you might get steamed steak. Gas ranges and electric ovens rarely have sufficient heat to quickly sear the steak to black - and you should have a hot charcoal fire and a pan to properly get it blackened (without other agents, of course.... why go to all that trouble to avoid the taste of great meat?)

                    Hope this helps

                    1. Using the skillet to char is the way to go.. and to ensure a nice crusty outer layer, drizzle/reduce/burn a little jus with some butter and or wine on the skillet (prior to introducing the beef) to achieve maximum crustiness/grizzle- also remember to serve/eat asap as the steak will continue to cook if left aside (for instance while you have to dismantle the fire alarm again). ..

                      1. I really like my steaks this way

                        I like raw meat and having it charred on the outside makes me feel a little more civilized (:

                        1. In a nut shell This is what a traditional "Pittsburgh" Charred not blackened on the outside cooked from rare to medium on the inside. To obtain this with a grill slather both sides of the steak with butter (i prefer garlic butter) and lay it on the hottest part of the grill and stand back. unless you want to be pittsburgh style yourself. flip the steak carefully and the outside will be perfectly flavored on the outside aswell as the in. People from pittsburgh do not call it "Pittsburgh" style they call it black and blue not bleu. Meaning outside charred and blue rare on inside. Black and bleu is blackend steak with melted bleu cheese on it or stuffed inside. To Pittsburgh style one without a grill heat a cast iron skillet till its litterally white like you would for a traditional catfish or tilapia. And just toss the steak on searing both sides completly. Some restaurants use a blow torch on the sides but if done correctly blow torch isnt needed. Usually you would only pittsburgh a ribeye or a porterhouse because of their thickness.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RandallFlagg

                            A steak ordered "Black and Blue" should be on the grill for no more then 20 seconds, tops. Bring it to room temperature and season well before cooking on a VERY hot grill. The steak is placed on the grill and you count to 5, turn the steak 90° and count to 5 again, flip it over, and 5 more, a 90° turn w/ 5 more seconds, and serve. The inside temp on a 1+" steak should be no more than 110° if you did it correctly.

                          2. I always order my steaks this way. Most servers look at me blankly until I explain what I want. I still usually get the steak rate to medium rare instead of blue, but at least it's not well done.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: KevinB

                              If I get a blank stare when I order my steak this way I change my order!

                            2. I ate at a Tapas style restaurant and ordered Carne Asada served Pittsburgh style. I think I'm a convert.

                              1. Here is an outdoor method for preparing a steak - Pittsburg rare, so as not to have clouds of smoke permeating the entire house:

                                I prefer a thick cut (1 1/2") of an excellent, rib-eye for this dish. Alot of fat helps carbonize the surfaces of the meat, but it will also make for violent flare ups. Make 2 or 3 vertical incisions on the fat side of the steak, as closely as possible to the flesh. I season the steak with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, after - not before - pulling it from the grill.

                                Use a charcoal grill with thick-gauge metal walls for preparing the steak

                                Buy a heavy-duty, blow-dyer, which you will use only for the following purpose. The blow-dyer will become full of ashes and reek. Unless you want smelly hair, keep it away from your hair! Light the coals, normally, and let them burn until they are slightly ashy. With a pair of tongs, mound the coals, in pyramid fashion, into a tall pile, as closely as possible to where the bottom of the grate will be placed. Shoot the blow-dryer on low speed at the coals until they become almost ashen. Place the grate on the grill. Shoot the blow-dryer at the coals on high speed. Continue shooting until the coals emit a white or greenish hue and the grate glows a brilliant orange-red. You will observe that you are near a blast-funace. Be careful in 90+ degree summer heat, as you could get a heat-stroke.

                                Place the steak on the grate. Use a very long set of barbeque tongs, about 2 ft. long, to turn the steak. Since the melted fat will drip fast, you may need to reposition the steak, so that one portion of the steak is not getting the flare up. Tilting the steak, evenly distributes the fat run-off. When one side if black, turn, and blacken the other side. Remove the steak, season it aggressively and let it rest for 5 - 10 minutes. (I like to blacken the fat side of the steak as well. If the steak is thick enough, it will stand, unassisted, on the fat side.)

                                Contrary to other posters on this thread, I do not see how anyone could get cross-hatched patterns, etched into the steak, due to the intensity of heat and flame. You want black not grill patterns on the surfaces of the steak for Pittsburg rare.

                                Cooking with pure flame has been implicated in cancer. Since there have been so many bogus cancer scares over the decades, I do not know what to believe, but caution may be indicated.

                                My father worked as an engineer at a blast funace in Steelton PA, not Pittsburg. He died about 5 years ago. I always think of him when I make this dish...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: kheper

                                  I'm with ya, kheper... the modern equivalent of a single-task bellows to add that 02 to the mix and get that 1000 degrees,

                                  Mine is from the local thrift store: a 99 cent drier that had a burned out heating element, but still a good strong fan.

                                  Modified it to give a more focused blast by using three layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, crinkled to add structural strength, to form a six inch long tapered nozzle that decreased the diameter of the airflow down to a 3" by 1" rectangular exit port (think "crevice tool" on a vacuum cleaner). This focuses the airflow, to mimic the nozzle of bellows. Used a radiator hose clamp to fasten it to the barrel of the blow drier.

                                  With real hardwood charcoal (no clay ash floating around, only carbon), it's a blast furnace in a 10" by 20" hibachi.

                                  Since it's fabrication, I have never once ordered a steak at a restaurant.

                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                    Check this out. Hardwood plus forced air = hot hot heat. I think I need one:


                                2. This topic reminds me of a line that Woody Harrelson had in the movie, “The Cowboy Way”. He and Kiefer Sutherland are two cowboys looking for a friend in NYC. They decide to have dinner at the Waldorf Astoria and Woody (Pepper) wants a steak. The dialog is as follows:

                                  Waiter: How would you like your steaks cooked?

                                  Pepper: Oh, just knock its horns off, wipe its nasty a$$, and chunk it right here on this plate.

                                  Waiter: And would you care to order wine with your meal?

                                  Pepper: Uh, yah why don't you bring us a bottle of something or other, uh not too sweet, American.

                                  Waiter: American something or other, yes sir an excellent choice and would you
                                  like glasses or do you prefer to drink directly from the bottle?

                                  Pepper: Well, um, glasses I reckon and oh hay toss a little ice in mine if you would
                                  my good man.

                                  Waiter: Ice, certainly sir. Nothing could surprise me now.