Frozen Butter Is The Key To Perfecting Pittsburgh-Style Steak

Pittsburgh may be known to the rest of the country for its love affair with pierogies and french fries on salad, but the city has quite a few other renowned gems — and one of them has a particularly rich cultural history exclusive to "Steel City." As Pittsburgh legend has it, workers in the steel mills used to bring raw steak with them for lunch, and to prepare it, they would quickly sear it on the sweltering surfaces of the hot steel. The result was a piece of meat with a blackened and charred outside, while the inside remained medium or raw. There are other speculations as to how Pittsburgh-style steak came about, but these days, it describes any steak with a very charred outside and a blood-red inside.

There are a few steps in the Pittsburgh-style steak cooking method that are essential to ensuring the desired result. First, it's a must that you are using a grill because an open flame is the only way to guarantee a charred outside without it being overcooked inside. You'll want to preheat the grill extremely hot — typically on the hottest setting you have — for at least seven to 10 minutes before putting on the steak. Now, most importantly, Chef Billy Parisi recommends placing frozen butter all around the steak. Using butter that's frozen will keep the butter from melting too quickly and allow it to slowly drip into the open flame, causing a bigger, hotter flame ideal for charring.

How to prepare Pittsburgh-style steak with frozen butter

When you're using so much butter on the meat in the cooking process, it's a good idea to prep your steak with only a dry rub before cooking. You could just use salt and pepper, but adding in other seasonings like garlic powder, paprika, rosemary, thyme, and minced onion will take the flavor load to the next level. Heat your grill between 550 and 650 degrees Fahrenheit, apply the steak to the grill, and place squares of butter all around and on top of the steak.

When using frozen butter for Pittsburgh-style steak, you must use a lot of it. This is because butter tends to melt fast, so a larger amount helps slow down the melting process a bit. You'll want to use at least 4 ounces. Cook the steak for 60 to 90 seconds on each side, making sure the butter remains dripping constantly throughout the duration, and the flame engulfs the steak. The outside should be completely charred, but the center should be rare.