Thursday, July 11, 2019

Steak Tartare

Steak tartare, also known as beef tartare, is a combination of hand-chopped raw beef, finely minced shallot/onion, capers, and cornichons, all tossed in a tangy and acidic Dijon mustard-based dressing. Sometimes egg yolks are included in the dressing, and sometimes they are presented whole atop each serving.

I ordered steak tartare during my recent trip to Paris, and although it wasn't my first taste of the raw delicacy, I was suddenly reminded of how much I enjoy steak tartare and decided to make it upon my return to the States.

There are many recipes for this dish throughout the interwebs, and in essentially every French cookbook. There are of course similarities and some differences, from the type of beef used to the slight variations in how the meat is seasoned. The late great Anthony Bourdain's recipe in the Les Halles Cookbook includes ketchup, anchovies, and Cognac, which I did not see in any other recipe I came across.

After much research I put together my own formula using a more traditional approach. Although some folks use top round or sirloin for their tartare, you're best off using beef tenderloin if you can afford it. My local meat market was selling it for $10.99/lb which I thought was very reasonable for this top cut.

This particular recipe is a bit more acidic than some others, but I really wanted to replicate the highly acidic flavor of the steak tartare I enjoyed at Cafe Blanc in Paris back in May. It definitely packed a punch, and that's what I liked so much about it. It's important to taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking once everything is mixed together, and of course as is the case with any raw preparation of meat, be sure to serve it cold and immediately.

Steak Tartare
Serves 4

1 pound beef tenderloin (I have seen recipes that use sirloin--Anthony Bourdain's does--and top round, but beef tenderloin should be your first choice if it's affordable)
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
A couple shakes of hot sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the beef in the freezer for about 1 hour until the exterior begins to firm up and form crystals but it's still easily pierced with a knife. This will make it easier to finely hand-chop.

Meanwhile, prep the shallot, capers, cornichons, and parsley in a small bowl, and set aside. In another small bowl whisk together the egg yolk, vinegar, mustard, oil, Worcestershire, and hot sauce.

Remove the beef from the freezer, slice it thinly against the grain, then slice into fine strips, and then finally dice into small cubes, about 1/4-inch across. Transfer the beef to a large mixing bowl and gently combine it with the shallot and caper mixture as well as the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed with salt, pepper, etc.

Divide into 4 equal portions, press each portion into a round cookie cutter on a plate. Remove the ring and serve immediately, preferably with fries and/or toast points, and salad.


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