Philadelphia, PA - When you ask a steakhouse about the rareness of a steak, you might be surprised to learn that Pittsburgh style is actually a variation of rare. In Pittsburgh, rare means that the outside of the steak is charred but still rare on the inside.
What Is Pittsburgh Rare and How Do You Cook It
Because steaks in this region are heated quickly, the level of rareness can vary widely. Some restaurants serve a rare version of the Pittsburgh-style steak, while others offer a slightly charred steak. But what is the difference between a rare and a perfectly cooked piece of beef?
How to Cook Pittsburgh-Style Steak
The secret to a perfectly cooked steak in the Pittsburgh style lies in cooking it over an open flame. A steak cooked this way is known as a "Pittsburgh strip" and is not the same as your regular strip steak. However, the beef is cooked at a high temperature, making it very easy to cook. While cooking a ribeye or New York strip, you should set aside the fat to be used later on. The meat should be completely raw or rare on the inside.
The process of cooking a Pittsburgh-style steak is simple. It starts by cooking the meat over an open flame until it is nearly black. This ensures that the meat has an even and consistent internal temperature. The next step is to place the steak on the grill seven to ten minutes before the heat reaches its maximum. Firewood may be used to get the grill hotter. As the steaks are cooked on an open flame, the outside layer of meat is sealed with a high-grade char.
History of The Pittsburgh-Style Steak
While the term Pittsburgh-style steak has no official definition, this style of steak is often associated with steel mills. It is a unique type of meat, cooked so the inside remains raw, and its exterior is charred to perfection. A typical steak is usually made with a thick cut of beef and can be trimmed or fabricated. Because of the high temperature of a blast furnace, the steak is more tender and juicy than its counterpart.
The steak was cooked on hot metal to kill bacteria and retain its tenderness. During the Great Depression, mill workers had only 30 minutes to eat lunch, so they needed a high-calorie meal. The steak was charred to a point where the outside would drop off. Hence, it became known as "Pittsburgh style" because it was roasted in a restaurant. This method of cooking steaks required high temperatures, which reached over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.