Blue Steak

Blue Steak

The Pittsburgh rare steak, or ‘black and blue’, has recently come back into fashion. It is a steak that has been cooked momentarily at a very high temperature so that it is charred on the outside yet raw in the center.

How to cook the perfect steak – from bleu to well-done

How would you like your steak?” Unless we’re gourmets, having to cook steaks to order for family and friends can be challenging. Even ordering in a restaurant can be daunting. How often do we play it safe by asking for a medium because we fear to say the ‘wrong thing’ or because we’re not really sure?

The good news is that a little knowledge and confidence in our own preference can overcome any reticence and turn us into accomplished cooks and happier diners.

The temperature at the center of a piece of meat gives an accurate indication of the extent to which is cooked but there are other methods that dispense with the need for a meat thermometer. One is timing, the other is the touch test. Here’s how it works.

Hold out your non-dominant hand, palm up, and relaxed. With the index finger of the other, gently prod the fleshy area between your thumb and the base of your palm. There is very little resistance. This is what raw meat feels like.

Now make a circle with that thumb and its index finger. The muscle at the base of the thumb tenses up slightly. This is what rare meat feels like.

As you repeat this process with the middle, ring, and little finger, the muscle below the thumb tenses further each time. Miraculously, the feel of that muscle corresponds to the feel of a steak at its further stages of cooking: medium/rare, medium, and finally well done.

Cooking steak in four steps

So if you touch the steak as it cooks, and compare it with the feel of your other hand, you’ll know exactly when to stop cooking it. With a little practice, anyone can become an expert steak chef.

There is also a ‘face test’. On a person of average build, the different feels of your cheek, chin, and forehead correspond to a rare, medium, and well-done steak. The face test, however, is not as hygienic as the touch test because while we all wash our hands before cooking, few of us wash our faces.

The six degrees of “doneness”

Inevitably, the touch test is a rule of thumb so timings for cooking are approximate and based on a 1-inch-thick sirloin steak, at cool room temperature, placed in a hot pan.

Note, it is advisable to brush both sides of the raw steak lightly with oil beforehand to avoid it sticking, and afterward to rest the cooked steak for 3-4 minutes before serving as this improves the texture.

Blue/bleu

The touch test for blue steak is the same as for raw meat described above. Sear the steak for one minute either side in a hot pan and for a few seconds on each of the outer edges using tongs.

All but the outside of the steak will look raw. If you use a meat thermometer, the steak’s internal temperature will be less than 29C.

Rare

Gently press the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb. The flesh beneath your thumb will give quite a bit when prodded. This is what a rare steak feels like.

To achieve this, sear the steak on both sides for 2½ minutes and using tongs, sear the narrow outer edges for 10 seconds each. The inner two-thirds of the steak will remain blood-red. (Internal temp: 30-51C)

Medium rare

Lightly press the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. Notice how the flesh beneath your thumb feels a little firmer. This is what a medium-rare steak feels like.

Sear the steak on both sides for 3½ minutes. When cut, the steak will range from brown on the outside to pink and moist with a narrow, blood-red center. (Internal temp: 57-63C)

Medium

Bring together the tip of your ring finger and thumb and the flesh beneath your thumb starts to feel firm. This is what a medium steak feels like.

Sear the steak for 4 minutes on each side. Only the inner 25 percent of the steak will remain pink and moist. (Internal temp: 63-68C)

For medium well-done, cook for 5 minutes each side. (Internal temp: 72˚-77C)

Well-done

Placing your little finger and thumb together, the flesh beneath your thumb will become decidedly firm. This corresponds to the feel of a well-done steak.

Sear the meat for 6 minutes each side. It will appear dark on the outside and evenly cooked to a light grey-brown color throughout and have a dry texture. (Internal temp: 77C +)

Other methods

In addition to the six principal degrees of ‘doneness’, there are two others worth mentioning. Steak tartare refers to a finely chopped or minced raw beef steak often served with onions, capers, and seasonings such as Worcestershire sauce and sometimes including a raw egg yolk.

At What Temperature To Cook?

Alright, now some of you are probably thinking 145 °F for beef!? Please take note, if you cook your beefsteak to the recommended temperature, IT WILL BE OVERDONE! It is important to note that this is for WHOLE MUSCLE cuts, NOT ground meat.

Term ( *French* ) Description Temperature range
Extra-rare or Blue ( *bleu* ) very red and cold 46–49 °C 115–120 °F
Rare ( *saignant* ) cold red center; soft 52–55 °C 125–130 °F
Medium rare ( *à point* ) warm red center; firmer 55–60 °C 130–140 °F 145 °F
Medium ( *demi-anglais* ) pink and firm 60–65 °C 140–150 °F 160 °F
Medium well ( *cuit* ) small amount of pink in the center 65–69 °C 150–155 °F
Well done ( *bien cuit* ) gray-brown throughout; firm 71-100 °C 160-212 °F 170 °F
Overcooked blacken throughout crispy >100 °C >212 °F >220 °F

Is it safe to eat a blue steak?


Anybody who enjoys eating a good steak certainly has a preference for how they like it cooked. While ordering a steak well-done may be sacrilegious because it robs the steak of its natural juices, at the other end of the steak spectrum is the blue steak (via The Spruce Eats). Also known as simply ordering a steak “extra rare,” a blue steak is just shy of serving the cut of beef raw (via Char-Griller). If you’re ordering a blue steak, it’s most certainly not getting to know the grill for too long, and the interior temperature probably isn’t much higher than 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

While a steak that’s barely been kissed by the grill might be appealing to some carnivores, is it safe to eat?

The secret to cooking a blue steak safely


Nobody wants a good steak dinner ruined with a trip to the emergency room because of E. coli poisoning. As for whether or not it’s safe to eat blue steak, the short answer is a resounding “yes” — and here’s why. Scientists at the University of Nottingham conducted a steak test to determine if eating a steak spiked with E. coli bacteria would result in the bacteria still hanging around when the meat was cooked rare (via BBC). What they found was that while there was still bacteria present in the steaks after the cuts came off the grill, they found that it was because of the serving tongs — and not the short time on the grill. When sterilized tongs were used to turn the blue steaks, no E. coli was detected in the meat.

If you’ve been to a steakhouse lately, you may have even noticed your steak coming out a little more rare than you had requested. The New York Post reported that some steakhouses have started cooking steaks rare, even when they were ordered medium-rare, simply because less meat ultimately gets tossed in the trash. “If a customer says their steak is overcooked, it can only be thrown out,” restaurateur Stephen Hanson said. A wasted steak is a pure disrespect to that cow that gave its life for your New York strip.

To be on the safe side, it’s recommended that you use a meat thermometer to check the internal temp of that porterhouse you’re grilling up, and if you want it blue, maybe swap out those tongs before you flip it.

Mistakes everyone makes when cooking steak


When cooked correctly, steak is the king of meats. It’s big and bold, and it has a way of dominating any meal in the best way. Although there are a few tricks to make cheap steaks taste expensive, steak is also usually pretty pricey, especially when you go for options like thick-cut ribeyes, New York strips, or filet mignon cuts from the tenderloin. Things can get even more expensive when you graduate from buying regular beef at the grocery store to grass-fed beef, enormous bone-in tomahawk steaks, or specialty dry-aged options from the butcher shop.

When a steak is cooked to medium-rare temperatures, it’s absolutely worth the high price tag. Unfortunately, it’s easy to make a mistake or two that can ruin your investment, turning a perfectly good steak into an underwhelming meal. But don’t despair: We know a few tricks to save your steak from turning into a dry, tough, unappealing hunk of meat. Read on to find out how to cook steak as good as your favorite steakhouse restaurant.

Buying the wrong kind of steak


There are lots of things that can go wrong to ruin your steak dinner: you can undercook the steak, overcook the steak, under season it, overseason it, have a few too many drinks, and forget about it entirely … the list goes on. But don’t worry about all that just yet. In order to eat a good steak, you first have to buy a good steak.

While it’s easy to empty your wallet on the more fashionable cuts, like tenderloin or New York strip, with a little knowledge, you’ll find that other bits of the cow is super tasty without the premium price tag. So if you want steak but struggle with the price, instead of those classics, but expensive cuts, try throwing a hanger steak, tri-tip, or one of these others on the grill. Since they are likely to have more connective tissue or naturally be a little tougher, they may require a little more attention to cook just right, but if you make the effort, you definitely won’t be sorry.

Is it safe to eat a blue steak?

Anybody who enjoys eating a good steak certainly has a preference for how they like it cooked. While ordering a steak well-done may be sacrilegious because it robs the steak of its natural juices, at the other end of the steak spectrum is the blue steak (via The Spruce Eats). Also known as simply ordering a steak “extra rare,” a blue steak is just shy of serving the cut of beef raw (via Char-Griller). If you’re ordering a blue steak, it’s most certainly not getting to know the grill for too long, and the interior temperature probably isn’t much higher than 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

While a steak that’s barely been kissed by the grill might be appealing to some carnivores, is it safe to eat?

The secret to cooking a blue steak safely

Nobody wants a good steak dinner ruined with a trip to the emergency room because of E. coli poisoning. As for whether or not it’s safe to eat blue steak, the short answer is a resounding “yes” — and here’s why. Scientists at the University of Nottingham conducted a steak test to determine if eating a steak spiked with E. coli bacteria would result in the bacteria still hanging around when the meat was cooked rare (via BBC). What they found was that while there was still bacteria present in the steaks after the cuts came off the grill, they found that it was because of the serving tongs — and not the short time on the grill. When sterilized tongs were used to turn the blue steaks, no E. coli was detected in the meat.

If you’ve been to a steakhouse lately, you may have even noticed your steak coming out a little more rare than you had requested. The New York Post reported that some steakhouses have started cooking steaks rare, even when they were ordered medium-rare, simply because less meat ultimately gets tossed in the trash. “If a customer says their steak is overcooked, it can only be thrown out,” restaurateur Stephen Hanson said. A wasted steak is a pure disrespect to that cow that gave its life for your New York strip.

To be on the safe side, it’s recommended that you use a meat thermometer to check the internal temp of that porterhouse you’re grilling up, and if you want it blue, maybe swap out those tongs before you flip it.

Mistakes everyone makes when cooking steak


When cooked correctly, steak is the king of meats. It’s big and bold, and it has a way of dominating any meal in the best way. Although there are a few tricks to make cheap steaks taste expensive, steak is also usually pretty pricey, especially when you go for options like thick-cut ribeyes, New York strips, or filet mignon cuts from the tenderloin. Things can get even more expensive when you graduate from buying regular beef at the grocery store to grass-fed beef, enormous bone-in tomahawk steaks, or specialty dry-aged options from the butcher shop.

When a steak is cooked to medium-rare temperatures, it’s absolutely worth the high price tag. Unfortunately, it’s easy to make a mistake or two that can ruin your investment, turning a perfectly good steak into an underwhelming meal. But don’t despair: We know a few tricks to save your steak from turning into a dry, tough, unappealing hunk of meat. Read on to find out how to cook steak as good as your favorite steakhouse restaurant.

Buying the wrong kind of steak


There are lots of things that can go wrong to ruin your steak dinner: you can undercook the steak, overcook the steak, under season it, overseason it, have a few too many drinks, and forget about it entirely … the list goes on. But don’t worry about all that just yet. In order to eat a good steak, you first have to buy a good steak.

While it’s easy to empty your wallet on the more fashionable cuts, like tenderloin or New York strip, with a little knowledge, you’ll find that other bits of the cow is super tasty without the premium price tag. So if you want steak but struggle with the price, instead of those classics, but expensive cuts, try throwing a hanger steak, tri-tip, or one of these others on the grill. Since they are likely to have more connective tissue or naturally be a little tougher, they may require a little more attention to cook just right, but if you make the effort, you definitely won’t be sorry.

Letting your steak warm-up


So you bought your steak on Monday and plan to eat it on Wednesday, and in the meantime, it’s sensibly sitting in the fridge waiting patiently. With many of the other animal products that you probably have in your refrigerator or freezer, you’ll typically want to get them to room temperature before you cook them. With things like chicken and fish, which either need to be thoroughly cooked for safety or just evenly cooked throughout, bringing them up to room temperature improves your odds of getting it right. But when it comes to steak, which neither needs to be cooked thoroughly nor evenly, having the meat start out on the cold side will work in your favor.

Regardless of how you like the inside of your steak done (we’ll get to that later), you probably like the outside to be dark brown and lightly charred. If you also like the inside to be anywhere south of medium, you’ll probably go with the standard cooking practice of throwing it onto an insanely hot grill or pan for a couple of minutes. If you time it right, this will sear the outside to crispy perfection without letting the heat do much to the inside. In the case of a rare steak, this can require as little as one minute per side, depending on the thickness. The internal temperature of a rare steak is around 125 degrees, so if you’re cooking it from room temperature, say 72 degrees, the grill only needs to raise the internal temperature 53 degrees to hit that mark. But if you leave your steak in the fridge at around 35 degrees, and throw it on the grill at that temperature, the grill now has to raise the inside temperature 90 degrees to get to the same place. This achieves two things: the extra time required to heat the steak to the ideal temperature makes it easier for you to hit the window of perfect doneness, and it also gives the outside a little extra time for the Maillard reaction to take effect, which uses the transformation of amino acids and sugars at high temperature to produce that mouth-watering grilled flavor you’re totally thinking about right now.

If you suddenly have a (very understandable) desire to cook steaks for dinner but only have frozen steaks on hand, fear not. According to Cook’s Illustrated, cooking steaks straight from frozen is better than thawing them before cooking because it results in more retained moisture and less overcooking. However, since the process works best when you freeze the steak in a specific way, you may still prefer to plan ahead and cook them straight from the butcher instead.

Not seasoning your steak enough


It goes without saying that you should season your steaks before you cook them, but are you seasoning them enough? Maybe you give them a light sprinkling and call it good. You’ll find that although the light sprinkling seemed like just the right amount on the surface of the meat, it totally failed to take into account the iceberg nature of steaks in general: most of the meat is below the surface. When you season your steak, you should apply a generous helping of kosher salt (and pepper, if you like) and rub it into the surface. It’s fine, you can’t really go wrong with salt and pepper.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take it much further. There are endless recipes for steak rubs and marinades to get your mouth watering, but a simple one to start with is made simply by adding garlic powder and onion powder to salt and pepper. Be warned that using exotic rubs and marinades (like these creative ones) might overpower the more subtle flavor of the meat. But if you only have access to a so-so cut, a sneaky rub might make all the difference to your meal.

Using the wrong pan to cook steak


Steak is one of those ingredients that benefit from quick, high-heat cooking, which isn’t a problem if you’re cooking outside on the grill. When you bring the cooking inside, you need to consider which pans in your arsenal can handle the high heat. No matter what you do, don’t reach for a nonstick pan when cooking steak. According to Good Housekeeping, overheating a Teflon-coated pan causes the coating to release toxic chemicals. Although you can’t see it happening, the coating starts to break down at a molecular level, releasing potentially carcinogenic gasses into the environment.

Nonstick pans also can’t go in the oven, which you might need to use to finish cooking thicker steaks. Much better to use a pan that’s good at searing and can also be used in the oven, like stainless steel or cast iron. These pans can handle high heat temperatures — both on the stovetop and in the oven — and they hold heat well, ensuring an even sear.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is blue steak?

Otherwise known as “bleu”, blue steak is a mark of French tradition. Achieving blue steak is simply a case of cooking cold meat under high temperature for a very short period of time – just long enough to lightly sear the outside.

2. What is black and blue steak?

Black and Blue is a different cooking method. It is sometimes called “Pittsburgh” — legend has it that steelworkers would cook steak in this fashion on a hot piece of metal.

A Black and Blue steak is cooked on a very hot flame. The outside is charred black, while the inside is cool (110F) — just barely warmer than a bleu steak.

3. Is blue rare steak safe?

As long as the whole surface of the steak has been sealed (cooked), then it should be perfectly safe. One of the reasons raw meat can be a risk is because of e-Coli. However, this is only found on the surface of the meat (contaminated during slaughter). So if you ‘seal’ the outside surface of the steak, it kills off the e-Coli.

4. What Is Blue Rare Steak?

It’s not “blue”, but “bleu ”. It’s a cooking term used to describe a steak that has been cooked on the surface, but the center is still raw and cold. In general, that gives you the true flavor of the meat (please, please don’t drown it in sauces and shower it in assorted spices!).

5. Is eating blue steak bad for you?

Any meat bought from a reputable source will carry very little risk of salmonella, E. coli, or any other scary ailment associated with undercooked meat. So eating that medium or rare steak isn’t going to make you sick.

References:

  1. www.telegraph.co.uk

  2. chicolockersausage.com

  3. www.mashed.com