Pittsburgh Style Steak

A few weeks ago I was at the beach with my parents and siblings for my father’s birthday. For his birthday dinner my dad wanted steaks on the grill, so I was asked to man the grill and prepare the steaks. Luckily the house we were renting had a nice kettle grill so I was happy to make the steaks.

As I was letting the steaks rest on the counter coming up to room temp I asked how everyone wanted their steaks done. Most everyone wanted their steak somewhere between medium rare to medium well, and of course there is always that one that wants it well done. However there was one request from my sister that threw me off for a minute. “I want mine done Pittsburgh style” she said. Even though I am from Pennsylvania I had never heard of Pittsburgh style steak.

She told me it’s charred on the outside and pink inside. I did a quick google search and found that originally Pittsburgh Style is cooked over extremely high heat quickly to char the outside but leave the inside rare. One story I found was that  the term started in the various steel mills in and around Pittsburgh. The mill workers needed high calorie food for the heavy work and had only 30 minutes for lunch. The blast furnaces were heated to over 2,000°F. They would throw a steak on the side of the blast furnace which was sterile due to the high heat, leave it for a few moments, and then turn it. The steak was seared but raw inside.

Now most restaurant visitors use the term to describe a deeply charred outside no matter the internal temp. Other terms for similar steaks are Chicago-rare or Black and Bleu.

I told my sister I would give it a shot but made no promises since I had never done it that way before. Now my sister did say she wanted hers more pink than red so I went for medium rare for hers. I set hers on the hottest part of the grill and kept a close eye on it. After dinner she told me I actually nailed it and it was perfect.

One thing I will have to say after testing this several times, is there is no way to make this on the stove top. I just found that the stove does not get hot enough to char the outside without over cooking the inside.

I found the best way to do this Pittsburgh style is over a live flame. Another key is having a nice thick steak. Again developing a rapport with your butcher or meat cutter at the grocery store can get you some nice surprises at the meat counter. I wanted a nice thick ribeye (I know big surprise huh?). This is what my butcher had for me.

Nice thick cut ribeye

After patting these dry and drizzling with vegetable oil and season with fresh ground pepper and salt I let them sit to come up to temp while I get the grill going.


Using my chimney starter I get some nice Mesquite wood going and let it get nice and hot, so hot that my chimney is almost glowing.

get the fire going

Then add a bit of charcoal to the bottom of the grill and carefully dump the burning mesquite over the charcoal. I recommend wearing heat-resistant gloves as your chimney will be cranking out a lot of heat.

WOW that’s hot

Set your grate back on the fire and get the steaks on directly over the fire. Leave them sit for just a few moments to develop a nice char  then flip and char the other side.

Char those steaks

Now I do want to stop here and say you cam easily do this on your gas grill just crank it up to high and close the grill lid to get the inside and the grill grates nice and hot.

If you don’t want a rare internal temp move the steaks to the indirect side of your grill and cover the grill to kill the flames from the wood and let it die down to just embers and let the steak cook to the internal temp you want, but if you do make sure you use your thermometer to hit the temp you want these steaks do not take long at all.

I had this one on the fire to char for about 1 minute per side and then indirect heat and covered for 4 more minutes and hit a true medium internal temp.

As with all steak make sure you give the steak time to rest after coming off the grill

resting steak Pittsburgh style
charred ribeye nice and medium inside


3 Comments Add yours

  1. KC Ginn says:

    How did I miss the discussion?


  2. Natasha @ saltandlavender.com says:

    These. Look. Awesome.

    Liked by 2 people

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