The Origin: Pittsburgh Steak
“Pittsburgh Black,” “black and blue,” “Pittsburgh Steak” or “Pittsburgh Rare.” Whatever locals call it, this Steel City steak preparation is legendary. The gist of this meaty dish: the beef is briefly seared at an extremely high temperature, which results in a charred exterior with a rare middle.
According to Sylvia Emmenegger McCoy, founder of Burgh Bits and Bites, Pittsburgh Food Tasting and Historic Walking Tours, the origin of this steak comes from the area’s historic steel mill workers. “During a tour of the Carrie Blast Furnace with the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area, we learned that the steel mill workers would take a steak and place it against the fiery Carrie Furnace. It would get black and burnt on the outside; the inside was still rare because it didn’t have time to fully cook.” A likely outcome, with a furnace heated to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Chef: Kristin Butterworth
A little more than an hour outside of the city, at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, you’ll find the fantastic Lautrec restaurant. Kristin Butterworth—the youngest female chef in the world at the helm of a Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond establishment—has put an entirely new spin on this entree.
“The thought behind the dish was to pay tribute to the area that we live in and the food traditions that have played a part in leading us to where we are now culinarily. Taking something [steak] that is such a major part of Pittsburgh history and whimsically adapting it in a refined way, in my opinion, is one of the best aspects of the job and a major part of Lautrec’s food philosophy.”
With a love for the farm-to-table movement, Chef Butterworth works directly with Nemacolin Resort’s own horticulturalists at the on-site Holistic Garden and has formed relationships with more than a dozen local farms and purveyors.
“To prepare the steak, we took the deckle [the most tender and flavorful part of the ribeye] and marinated it overnight in our house-fermented black garlic. We then sous vide the meat at 140 degrees for one hour, crusted it in ground black truffle and roasted it in the wood-burning oven to medium rare. The combination of the earthy black truffle, sweet black garlic and sea salt makes for an incredible depth of flavor and gives the appearance of the black and blue or ‘Pittsburgh-style’ steak.”
Local Wine Pairings
Lautrec was recently honored for its remarkable wine program in Wine Spectator’s 2016 Restaurant Wine List Awards. We wanted to know what Pennsylvania wines Kristen Butterworth, as a locavore chef at a top destination for wine lovers, would suggest pairing with her modernized dish.
“I love the idea of pairing the 2012 Malbec from Pittsburgh Winery, located in the Strip District, because it would go extremely well with the earthiness of this dish.”
McCoy seconded that. “Tim Graber from Pittsburgh Winery makes an amazing Napa Valley Cabernet Reserve and a Chilean Malbec. Both would go well with the steak.”
Of course, another local option for white wine lovers is the extremely appropriately named Nemacolin Castle from Christian W. Klay Winery, located just a few miles down the road. Similar to a semi-dry Riesling and Gewurztraminer, Nemacolin Castle is a semi-dry, brilliant wine with a hint of violet in its aroma.
- Chef photo: Adam Milliron
- Wine on Table photo: FoodiesFeed
- Wine Decanters photo: Alexandra Whitney Photography
- Steak photo: GraphicStock