Before I was vegetarian, 10 some years ago, I loved steaks well done (took after my dad). After 7 years, I gave up the vegetarian thing, and pretty much started to eat paleo-style for the last 3,4 years. When I started eating steaks again, I realized I liked a steak rare or blue. Fun stuff!
... then I discovered 'black & blue' or 'Pittsburgh rare': warmed to room temp (so its not actually cold inside), then quickly seared on the outside and served -- literally 'black & blue', rarer than rare, and with some tasty char.
I've been eating steaks like this for years now -- and I really don't want to stop. However, with respect to the little bit of seared char, I'm curious as to what I will be exposing myself to, over the course of a lifetime? This may apply to all grilling -- everyone likes general grilling foods crispy / a tad charry, right?
So far, things to look into include: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and (possibly/probably?) advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). Anything else to look into? How notable are these carcinogens and baddies in an overall healthy lifestyle?
Truth? Yes, there negatives with the char - either grilled or broiled. Extra truth? I'm still going to eat my proteins a little charred as that's a tasty feature that I love. I could get hit crossing the street by a bus so not going to let that get to me. It's not something that I do every day but definitely on occasion.
Oh tasty animal fat.. so dangerously good.
Rumour has it that marinating proteins before grilling reduces, but does not eliminate, HCA's forming. ALso, PAHs form, apparently, when the fat drips to the coals, then drifts back up in smoke and such. That one fascinates me. I have no idea if these two are legit but it's interesting.
Note: My step-dad's ex wife actually worked on this exact project and her findings made it so he never at meat with a char ever again. He's very cautious and will only poach or roast meat now.
Nerd Alert: Have you heard of the Maillard reaction? It's a form of nonenzymatic browning - a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a sugar that is being reduced, brought about with heat. Its responsible for colors and tastiness in food. Example: Browning meat, toasting bread, roasted coffee, et al.
Extra Nerd Alert: The Maillard reaction also forms when veg or fruit are grilled but they aren't really in danger of producing the HCAs - like protein.
I used to like black and blue steaks, and if I have to buy CAFO meat, that's how I prepare them. I figure "it's a treat, and there's no flavor otherwise".
However, for the very lean and slightly stringy grassfed beef I buy, it just makes a very tough "meat juice sponge". I've found a slower cooking tends to tenderize these tougher steaks.
I LOATHE steak. Am I doomed on Paleo? 10 Answers