Why You Need A Whole Stick Of Butter To Cook A Black And Blue Steak

A black and blue steak, also known as Pittsburgh-style or Pittsburgh-rare, is a unique and divisive steak preparation. It may not be for everyone, but it is ideal for those that like a steak so rare it almost looks blue, but also love the intensity of a deep char.

There are various legends about how this technique came to be, but it more than likely came from how Pittsburgh steel workers took their lunch breaks. These factory workers would bring cuts of meat to work and grill them on searing hot pieces of metal. The metal was so hot that it would char the outside nearly instantly but leave the inside of the cut of meat almost raw.

Since it is pretty much impossible to reach such high temperatures in a home or even restaurant kitchen, you need a method to get some serious flames flying to achieve that characteristic char. Grilling over an open flame is crucial, but Chef Billy Parisi has another trick — use a whole stick of unsalted butter. He cuts the butter into thick slices and pops them in the freezer. Then, when the steak seasoned with salt and pepper hits the grill, he puts a couple of pats of butter on top of the steak and the rest leaning against the sides. The melting butter causes massive flare-ups that scorch the steak, which is exactly what you need. Utilize another interesting technique, and grill your steaks from frozen to ensure they come out extra-rare.

Make a perfectly black and blue steak

Using frozen butter is vital. If not, the butter will melt into the grill almost immediately, but when it is frozen, it melts slowly enough to last the 60 to 90 seconds of cooking time.

It is also important to select a cut of steak that is at least an inch and a half thick so that the inside won't overcook. You also want a cut that is not too fatty. In order for the fatty bits of steak to be tasty, they need a little time to soften, render, and crisp up. If you are cooking a steak the Pittsburgh way, it doesn't spend enough time on the heat, and you will be left with raw, chewy, gummy pieces of fat. Use a filet mignon, New York strip, or ribeye. Billy Parisi also suggests using pieces of trimmed fat the same way as the butter because as it drips, it will cause those flames to fly.

Make a compound butter to compliment your steak. Add herbs like rosemary, tarragon, and parsley to softened salted butter, along with lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Let chill, and put a thick slice on top of your steak before serving. Plate with charred lemon halves and a handful of peppery arugula dressed in olive oil for a fresh take, or keep it super simple and serve it with your potato preparation of choice to pay homage to the meat-and-potatoes culture of Pittsburgh.