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Anyone else love steaks done 'black & blue' or Pittsburgh rare? Concerns about charred bits?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 24, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Before I was vegetarian, 10 some years ago, I loved steaks well done (took after my dad). After 7 years, I gave up the vegetarian thing, and pretty much started to eat paleo-style for the last 3,4 years. When I started eating steaks again, I realized I liked a steak rare or blue. Fun stuff!

... then I discovered 'black & blue' or 'Pittsburgh rare': warmed to room temp (so its not actually cold inside), then quickly seared on the outside and served -- literally 'black & blue', rarer than rare, and with some tasty char.

I've been eating steaks like this for years now -- and I really don't want to stop. However, with respect to the little bit of seared char, I'm curious as to what I will be exposing myself to, over the course of a lifetime? This may apply to all grilling -- everyone likes general grilling foods crispy / a tad charry, right?

So far, things to look into include: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and (possibly/probably?) advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). Anything else to look into? How notable are these carcinogens and baddies in an overall healthy lifestyle?

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 27, 2012
at 03:40 PM

Thanks for all the input everyone! Picked up some pointers for further research, as well as some handy steak cooking tips. :-)

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on February 24, 2012
at 10:31 PM

Another way you might want to try is the America's Test Kitchen way, where you warm up the steak to 95F first, in a low (225F) oven, then cook it on the hot iron afterward. They recommend it to eliminate the "gray band" of badly cooked meat between the warm interior and the charred exterior, but for me it just makes for foolproof rare when the iron is very hot. If you use a lower temp on the hot iron you should be able to adapt it to get the results you like with a nice gradient on the inside.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on February 24, 2012
at 10:25 PM

when i was very young a boyfriend use to love steak prepared this way except he referred to it as "scared"

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:57 PM

Nice, thanks. I'll give that a try and incorporate that into my next steak dinner. :-)

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:51 PM

That is essentially "black and blue", charred outside, practically raw inside. It's very similar to what you are talking about.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:50 PM

I heat my skillet to a medium-low and do a low-temp sear on it, instead of getting the thing smoking hot and slap down the steak for under 2min/side like I would to for a proper "black and blue".

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:43 PM

"Slower" like ... broiler? Or?

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 06:41 PM

Thanks @Richard - going to add those terms into my research. I'm definitely not trying to fear monger myself out of eating grilled meat, just trying to understand the full ramifications of my choices.

3c997ffae3db9464325b96979346d9e9

(1290)

on February 24, 2012
at 06:10 PM

There is (as has been discussed on this site) a distinction to be made between endogenous and exogenous advanced glycation end products regardless of the Maillard reaction. This species evolved and thrived cooking meat over an open fire.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 04:00 PM

Ahh, the Maillard reaction: the only reason white toast every had any flavor. ;-)

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 03:01 PM

FWIW, if you like steaks black & blue or rare, definitely let that steak warm up to room temp. :-) I used to rush things, and was never happy with the results.

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3 Answers

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6
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on February 24, 2012
at 03:27 PM

Truth? Yes, there negatives with the char - either grilled or broiled. Extra truth? I'm still going to eat my proteins a little charred as that's a tasty feature that I love. I could get hit crossing the street by a bus so not going to let that get to me. It's not something that I do every day but definitely on occasion.

Oh tasty animal fat.. so dangerously good.

Rumour has it that marinating proteins before grilling reduces, but does not eliminate, HCA's forming. ALso, PAHs form, apparently, when the fat drips to the coals, then drifts back up in smoke and such. That one fascinates me. I have no idea if these two are legit but it's interesting.

Note: My step-dad's ex wife actually worked on this exact project and her findings made it so he never at meat with a char ever again. He's very cautious and will only poach or roast meat now.

Nerd Alert: Have you heard of the Maillard reaction? It's a form of nonenzymatic browning - a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a sugar that is being reduced, brought about with heat. Its responsible for colors and tastiness in food. Example: Browning meat, toasting bread, roasted coffee, et al.

Extra Nerd Alert: The Maillard reaction also forms when veg or fruit are grilled but they aren't really in danger of producing the HCAs - like protein.

3c997ffae3db9464325b96979346d9e9

(1290)

on February 24, 2012
at 06:10 PM

There is (as has been discussed on this site) a distinction to be made between endogenous and exogenous advanced glycation end products regardless of the Maillard reaction. This species evolved and thrived cooking meat over an open fire.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 04:00 PM

Ahh, the Maillard reaction: the only reason white toast every had any flavor. ;-)

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 06:41 PM

Thanks @Richard - going to add those terms into my research. I'm definitely not trying to fear monger myself out of eating grilled meat, just trying to understand the full ramifications of my choices.

1
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:33 PM

I used to like black and blue steaks, and if I have to buy CAFO meat, that's how I prepare them. I figure "it's a treat, and there's no flavor otherwise".

However, for the very lean and slightly stringy grassfed beef I buy, it just makes a very tough "meat juice sponge". I've found a slower cooking tends to tenderize these tougher steaks.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:57 PM

Nice, thanks. I'll give that a try and incorporate that into my next steak dinner. :-)

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:50 PM

I heat my skillet to a medium-low and do a low-temp sear on it, instead of getting the thing smoking hot and slap down the steak for under 2min/side like I would to for a proper "black and blue".

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:43 PM

"Slower" like ... broiler? Or?

C56baa1b4f39839c018180bf63226f7d

(3499)

on February 24, 2012
at 10:31 PM

Another way you might want to try is the America's Test Kitchen way, where you warm up the steak to 95F first, in a low (225F) oven, then cook it on the hot iron afterward. They recommend it to eliminate the "gray band" of badly cooked meat between the warm interior and the charred exterior, but for me it just makes for foolproof rare when the iron is very hot. If you use a lower temp on the hot iron you should be able to adapt it to get the results you like with a nice gradient on the inside.

0
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:42 PM

I'm not. I love a pulse to go with my bloody steak and a nice crunchy outside- just like an animal I guess. Book: Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way By Frances Mallman.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on February 24, 2012
at 07:51 PM

That is essentially "black and blue", charred outside, practically raw inside. It's very similar to what you are talking about.

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