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What is blue rare steak?

10 Mins read
What is blue rare steak

What is blue rare steak? This may be a question that comes to mind when browsing a restaurant menu or ordering a steak. Blue rare steak is a term used to describe a steak that has been quickly seared on the outside, leaving the inside almost completely raw. 

The steak is cooked at a very high temperature for a very short amount of time, resulting in a cool center and a red or blue appearance. This style of cooking is not for everyone, but for those who enjoy a rare steak, blue rare can be a delicious and unique option.

What is Blue Rare Steak?

Blue rare steak, also known as Pittsburgh rare, is a steak cooked very quickly at a high temperature. It is seared on the outside but the inside remains cold and raw. Blue rare steak gets its name from the bluish, purple coloration of the raw meat inside.

To prepare blue rare steak, the steak is seasoned with salt and pepper or other spices as desired. It is then seared in a very hot skillet, usually with some oil, for 30-60 seconds per side. This quickly browns the outside but leaves the inside chilled and barely cooked. The short cooking time and high heat mean the inside remains a raw, jelly-like consistency with a cool temperature.

Blue rare steak is a popular choice among steak connoisseurs as it allows the full flavor of the high-quality beef to shine through. However, it is not recommended for people with weakened immune systems, as the raw center may contain harmful bacteria. Blue rare steak has a distinct appearance when cut open, with a seared outside crust and dark pink, raw center. It has a more jelly-like texture than other cooking levels.

Blue rare steak is considered a delicacy by steak lovers but is controversial due to health guidelines that recommend cooking meat to at least medium rare to kill potential pathogens. However, when prepared with the highest quality, fresh ingredients by professionals, blue rare steak can be safe and delicious. For the full experience, it is best paired with a full-bodied red wine.

What is blue rare steak

What is a blue rare steak?

Why is it Called Blue Rare Steak?

Blue rare steak gets its name from the distinct bluish tint of the raw meat inside. When beef is cooked very briefly at an extremely high temperature, it develops a browned crust on the outside but the center remains cold and raw. Raw meat, which has never been exposed to oxygen, has a purplish-red, almost blue tone due to the proteins and iron in the muscle tissue.

When the steak is cut open, this raw center with a bluish cast is revealed, giving the steak its name “blue” rare. The word “rare” simply indicates that the inside is mostly raw, barely cooked. The bluish color comes from a chemical reaction involving myoglobin, a protein found in muscle tissue that contains iron. 

When exposed to oxygen, myoglobin turns bright red, which is the more familiar color of raw beef. However, in the unexposed center of blue rare steak, the myoglobin retains its original purplish-blue tone.

Some people mistakenly believe “blue rare” refers to a steak being cold in the center. However, while the interior temperature is cool, it refers specifically to the color of the raw meat, not its temperature. The vivid bluish color coupled with the lightly seared outside is seen as a hallmark of proper blue rare steak by aficionados. 

The color comes from the chemistry of the beef itself and the way the myoglobin in the meat reacts when unexposed to air and barely heated. This unique appearance and texture are prized by steak connoisseurs looking for an exceptionally succulent and flavorful piece of meat.

How to Cook blue rare steak?

To cook blue rare steak, you will need a cut of high-quality beef steak, cooking oil with a high smoke point like canola or peanut oil, and seasoning such as salt and pepper.

First, generously season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Allow the steak to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. This will allow the seasoning to flavor the meat and the temperature to rise, resulting in more even cooking.

Heat a skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Add a tablespoon of the oil to the skillet. The oil should be very hot – it will shimmer and loosen easily in the pan.

Carefully place the steak in the skillet. For a 1-inch thick steak, cook approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Flip the steak only once while cooking.

While the second side is cooking, tilt the skillet and spoon the hot oil over the top of the steak repeatedly. This will help the surface color evenly and develop a good crust

Check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the steak with a meat thermometer. For blue rare, remove from the heat around 115 F. The carryover cooking will continue to raise the temperature after removing it from the heat. 

Allow the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Then slice and serve immediately. The center should be a raw, jelly-like consistency with a vivid purplish-red color. The outside should have a dark, crispy crust.

Blue rare steak requires careful attention while cooking due to the very short cooking time. Be very careful not to overcook the steak, as it will continue to cook a bit after removing it from the heat. With some practice, you can achieve a perfect blue rare steak with a crispy seared outside and raw, flavorful center.

What is blue rare steak

How to cook a blue rare steak

What Temperature is Blue Rare Steak Cooked To?

Blue rare steak is cooked to a very low internal temperature of 115 F or 46 C. This means the center of the steak remains raw and cold, while the outside is quickly seared. At this temperature, the steak is barely cooked and the inside has a jelly-like consistency with a bluish tint – which gives blue rare steak its name.

Compared to the usual range of doneness for steak, blue rare is at the very lowest end of the scale. For medium-rare, steak is cooked to 135 F, and well done is in the range of 160 F or higher. So blue rare steak is cooked significantly less than even medium rare. This limited cooking is what allows the flavor of the high-quality beef to shine through. However, it also means that blue rare steak may not be safe for those with weakened immune systems, as bacteria may still be present in the raw meat.

When cooking blue rare steak, frequent temperature checks are critical to avoid overcooking. Because blue rare steak spends such a short time in the skillet, just 30-60 seconds per side, the internal temperature can climb quickly. Most of the cooking happens through carryover heat after the steak has been removed from the skillet. An accurate meat thermometer should be used to monitor the internal temperature, and the steak should be removed from heat just before it reaches the target of 115 F.

Some cooks prefer to finish blue rare steak in a low-temperature oven instead of a skillet to bring the steak up to temperature without overcooking the outside. The steak can then be seared very quickly in a hot skillet just before serving to develop a flavorful crust. However, for the classic blue rare steak with a dark seared outside and chilled red center, precision timing in a ripping hot skillet is required. With some practice, home cooks can master cooking blue rare steak to the ideal temperature.

Is Blue Rare Steak Safe to Eat?

Blue rare steak, while considered a delicacy by some, is controversial in terms of food safety. The raw interior of blue rare steak may contain harmful bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella, which are usually killed by cooking meat to the recommended internal temperature of at least 145 F or 63 C. At 115 F, the temperature for a blue rare steak, most disease-causing bacteria are not destroyed.

For generally healthy adults, the risk of getting sick from eating blue rare steak in a developed country is small. High-quality meat that has been properly handled and stored by reputable suppliers and butchers poses little risk. However, children, elderly, pregnant, or immunocompromised individuals should never eat blue rare steak due to greater susceptibility to foodborne illness.

Some considerations for making blue rare steak safer:

Use only high-quality beef from a trusted local butcher or supplier. Avoid pre-cut grocery store meat.

Inspect the meat and ensure it has been cut and wrapped properly, with no tears or punctures in the wrapping.

Keep meat refrigerated at 40 F or below until ready to cook. Do not leave sitting at room temperature. 

Handle meat with care and wash hands, utensils, and surfaces thoroughly after contact to avoid cross-contamination.

Cook steak immediately before serving. Do not partially pre-cook, then refrigerate to finish cooking later.

Consider using a pre-searing technique, where the outside of the steak is quickly seared at high heat, then the steak is finished in a low-temperature oven until barely rare. This can kill more surface bacteria before the inside reaches 115 F.

Make sure anyone with a weakened immune system avoids eating blue rare steak.

While the risks associated with blue rare steak can be mitigated with proper handling and cooking techniques, there is still a small chance of foodborne illness, especially for susceptible individuals. For the general population, consuming blue rare steak occasionally as a delicacy at a reputable steakhouse or prepared properly at home poses an acceptable level of risk for most. 

However, it may not suit everyone’s tastes, and food safety guidelines still recommend cooking beef to at least medium rare to ensure the destruction of any harmful bacteria. In the end, you must weigh the risks and benefits yourself based on your health, quality of ingredients, and cooking skills.

What is blue rare steak

What Does Blue Rare Steak Taste Like?

Blue rare steak has a very distinctive taste that is prized by steak connoisseurs. Because the interior of the meat remains raw, the flavor comes through strongly. Blue rare steak tastes intensely beefy, meaty, and savory. The light sear on the outside provides a hint of caramelization, but the emphasis is on the pure flavor of high-quality beef.

The texture of blue rare steak also contributes to the experience. The interior raw meat has a soft, jelly-like consistency that melts in the mouth. The sear on the outside provides a crispy contrast. Every bite contains both the tender raw beef and the crust.

Some notes commonly used to describe the flavor and aroma of blue rare steak include:

Beefy and meaty: The raw meat allows the essential flavors of beef to shine through.

Iron-rich: The myoglobin in the raw meat gives the blue rare steak a robust, mineral tang.

Savory: Blue rare steak has the deep, umami-rich flavors of a well-marbled piece of beef.

Subtle nutty notes: The quick sear can develop slightly nutty, toasty flavors.

Buttery: The raw fat in blue rare steak often has a mild buttery flavor with Grass-fed beef.

Earthy: There are faint hints of mushrooms and truffles in a high-quality piece of blue rare steak.

The key is using an excellent cut of well-marbled steak for maximum flavor. As the steak is barely cooked, there is no place for imperfections to hide. Premium steak cuts like ribeye, strip steak, and filet mignon work well for blue rare preparation. Grass-fed or pasture-raised beef tends to be prized for its richer, beefier flavor.

For the full experience, blue rare steak is best paired with full-bodied red wines that can stand up to the intense beefy flavor, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, or Barolo. Sides like creamed spinach, grilled mushrooms, and duck-fat french fries complement the decadent experience of savoring a perfect blue rare steak.

Does Blue Rare Steak Have a Weird Texture?

The texture of blue rare steak can be off-putting to some, while others find it deliciously succulent. Because the center of blue rare steak remains raw, it has a very soft, jelly-like consistency that is unlike a typical cooked steak. The meat is still resilient and bouncy, not firm. As you chew, the meat almost melts in your mouth. This texture comes from the proteins in the beef that have not yet been denatured by heat.

For those accustomed to steaks cooked medium well and beyond, the squishy rawness of blue rare steak can seem strange and unpleasant. However, fans argue this soft texture, combined with the crisp sear of the outside, is what makes blue rare steak an unmatched eating experience. The tenderness allows the full flavor of the beef to come through in a way that is lost when cooked at higher temperatures.

What is blue rare steak

Some descriptions frequently used for the texture of blue rare steak include:

Jelly-like: The raw meat has a soft, loose consistency with lots of movement. It is not firm or dense.

Tender: The lack of cooking leaves the meat exceptionally tender. It offers no resistance when chewed.

Resilient: Although tender, the meat still has some spring and bounce. It is not mushy.

Melts in your mouth: The soft, raw meat melts into a liquid as you chew, releasing its flavor.

Crispy on the outside: The exterior sear provides a nice crispy crust, which contrasts nicely with the velvety interior.

Buttery: The mouthfeel of the raw fat and meat often seems rich, slippery, and mildly buttery. 

The unusual texture of blue rare steak is off-putting for some eaters but is considered a delicacy by others. It comes down to personal preference and familiarity. 

While strange to those expecting a typically cooked steak, fans argue that blue rare steak offers an unparalleled eating experience, with a tenderness that allows the beefy flavors to shine in a way not possible at higher cooking temperatures. If you have an open mind, savoring a properly prepared blue rare steak can be a revelation. But it is not for everyone, and that is perfectly understandable given its unique qualities.

Why Should You Try Blue Steak?

There are a few reasons steak lovers should try blue rare steak:

Maximum flavor: Blue rare steak allows the natural flavor of high-quality beef to shine through. As the meat is barely cooked, none of the beefy, savory flavors are lost. The quick sear simply enhances the flavor rather than diminishing it through extended cooking. For the true beef connoisseur, blue rare steak is the best way to appreciate a premium cut of meat.

Tenderness: Blue rare steak is extraordinarily tender due to the lack of cooking. There is no opportunity for the meat fibers to toughen. This tenderness, coupled with the rich flavor, results in an unparalleled eating experience according to fans.

Juiciness: With a raw center, blue rare steak retains a high amount of moisture. The meat is still sushi-grade fresh on the inside, and bursting with juices. The sear on the outside locks in the moisture. No extended cooking means no chance of the steak drying out.

Excitement: Something is thrilling about tasting a steak that is barely cooked. It feels primal and daring while also being a luxurious delicacy. For serious foodies and steak aficionados, blue rare steak offers an exciting culinary adventure.

Appreciation of quality: Properly cooking blue rare steak requires an exceptionally high-quality cut of beef and precise technique. It allows an appreciation of marbling, texture, and freshness that is lost in a well-done piece of meat. Seeing and tasting the difference demonstrates why steak connoisseurs prefer blue rare.

Crispy contrast: When done right, blue rare steak offers an irresistible contrast between the velvety soft raw interior and the crispy sear on the outside. Every bite offers both sensations, which many find pleasantly addictive.

While controversial and not for everyone, blue rare steak is considered a delicacy by those who appreciate its attributes. For steak lovers, trying a proper blue rare steak at least once, especially when made from high-quality ingredients, is an experience worth having, if only to decide if its pleasures outweigh any textural strangeness. When prepared and enjoyed responsibly, blue rare steak can be a culinary delight unlike any other.

What is blue rare steak

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About author
As the founder and chief editor of Scills Grill, I'm a self-proclaimed BBQ nut. I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I use various grills, smokers, and wood-fired ovens to produce epic food. Peter Cobbetts is the president and founder of Scills Grill, with over 15 years' experience in barbecue. He's an exceptional pitmaster and grill expert who specializes in smoking briskets, pork shoulders - using charcoal, wood or propane grills/smokers - as well as reviewing kitchen appliances such as grills, smokers etc., having tried out almost every model available on the market.
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