For such a simple recipe that takes next to no time to prepare, steak tartare certainly packs a punch! This is a classic dish with a fascinating story that's eaten throughout the world. It's also a popular Belgian food.
To sum it up, this beef tartare recipe is a pile of delicious raw beef mixed together with capers, pickles, and all sorts of yummy flavors that are bound to get your mouth watering.
You can adapt this steak tartare recipe however you like. You can add an egg yolk to the top if you want to be like the fancy restaurants, or use different flavors in the mix itself.
Some steak tartare recipes like to use a vinaigrette in the tartare steak of olive oil and wine vinegar, but instead, this one uses two secret ingredients – tabasco and Worcester sauce!
The best thing is that you don’t need to go near an oven or stove – and there’s next to no washing up.
About the beef tartare recipe
Steak tartare history: origins of the recipe
Gourmet cuisine goes from extreme to extreme – it’s hard to keep up with the latest culinary trends and fashions. Leaning towers of ingredients balanced precariously on top of each other, little flourishes of sauces, decorative microgreens.
It would be completely understandable to think that steak tartare is part of the nouvelle cuisine movement – yet another fancy creation cooked up (not literally!) by the world’s top chefs.
Well, it’s not. Believe it or not, people have been eating raw meat in forms similar to this for centuries.
Legend has it that beefsteak tartare originated in the 13th century in the Polish borderlands, where the invading Tatars (or Tartars – people from Mongolia) would eat raw meat while on the move. These were fearsome and violent horseriding warriors in nomadic tribes. They were constantly pressing forward, covering large distances quickly, attacking, withdrawing, and attacking again.
It’s thought that the name “Tatar” comes from the terrified cries of the people they invaded. They would hear the recognizable “ta-tar ta-tar ta-tar” of the horses’ hooves approaching and would shout “tatar!” to warn the rest of the village of the devastation that was to come.
The Tatars would ride with a string of “spare” horses so they could keep moving continuously. They would eat the horses that were no longer useful. While they were on a military attack, they had no time to stop and cook meals.
Allegedly, they kept strips of raw (horse) meat under their saddles, which would then be tenderized by the constant pounding and grinding when they rode. They’d then just add in a bunch of spices, capers, and other ingredients to disguise the flavors of horse and saddle sweat, and enjoy a tasty meal. Lovely!
Luckily the way we make steak tartare today is a bit more refined, not to mention hygienic. In fact, it’s now highly considered among culinary circuits. It’s amazing to think that what was once such a barbaric-seeming tradition is now a gourmet dish!
Today, there are variants of steak tartare all over the world, though perhaps founded in different traditions. In Chile, for example, they eat a raw beef dish called “crudos”. In Ethiopia, they have a raw minced beef recipe called “kitfo”.
Tips for how to make beef tartare
Many people think that beef tartare has to be eaten in a restaurant. This isn’t true! In reality, it’s a very simple dish that can easily be constructed at home. There are, however, a few important things to remember while preparing your homemade steak tartare.
The main question people ask is this: is steak tartare safe to eat? If you get your fresh beef from a trustworthy source and treat it in the correct way, there is no reason to have any hygiene concerns.
There are a few ways to go very wrong with this dish, and not just on a hygiene level. There are some hilarious photos hanging around the internet of people who have attempted raw beef tartare at home and not read up on how best to serve it up.
Here are a few tips and tricks for ensuring you get a safe and scrummy meal.
1. Buying the best beef for tartare
The best meat for steak tartare is freshly bought beef from a butcher, as opposed to a supermarket. This way, you can be sure of the quality of the meat, that it is fresh, and be specific about what kind of thing you want. Always tell your butcher that you plan to make beef tartare – they’ll give you a fresh cut and advise on what is the best cust for steak tartare.
People have different opinions on the best cut for steak tartare. Some beef tartare recipes swear by the finest beef tenderloin, and this will undoubtedly give you a delicious tartare. However, if you’re reluctant to spend that much money on it, sirloin steak is also a great choice and will save you some cash.
A piece of top round steak is also favored by some recipes – it really is up to you and your preference (and wallet!).
It’s not a good idea to use ground beef (ready minced beef) as this is intended for cooking. This is because ground beef contains other trimmings and meat from various different cows. If you like the ground texture of beef for steak tartare (we’ll get onto the different textures later!) you can, of course, make ground fresh beef yourself using a grinder.
2. Preparing the beef
When you get your beef home, you want to prepare and eat it the same day to make sure it’s safe. You don’t want the meat to be hanging about for any length of time. The first step is to trim off any gristle, tendons, or fat. There shouldn’t be too much of this if it’s a good quality cut. Your butcher might do this for you if you ask them nicely!
Beef tartare needs to be served cold. The taste of lukewarm raw beef isn’t very appealing. As soon as possible after returning from the butchers, it’s recommended to put the beef in your freezer for at least an hour, or for enough time that it just begins to freeze but is not completely frozen solid. A good test is that you should be able to pierce it using a sharp knife.
This means that when you come to slice it up, it doesn’t warm up too much and retains its coldness. It also makes slicing much easier.
There are a couple of optional steps you can take if you’re particularly worried about eating raw meat. These steps are not in the beef tartare recipe below but you can add them in if you want.
You can salt the beef. Rinse it in cold water and dry it off, then apply a generous layer of salt on all sides, and leave it in the fridge for an hour – no longer than a few hours or it’ll start to cure. Salt kills off bacteria that might be on the outside of the beef.
Some chefs also submerge the beef in salted boiling water for 10 seconds and then plunge it directly into ice-cold water for 10 more seconds. Remember to wash off the salt afterward!
Alternatively, you can sear the beef to kill off any potential bacteria. Lightly rub olive oil all over the beef, and sear it ever so slightly on all sides – not so much that it cooks through, just enough to gently cook the very exterior. Then pop it in the freezer to cool before slicing.
3. Cutting the beef
The way you cut your beef steak tartare very much depends on your preferred texture. Different recipes use different methods, from dicing, to chopping, to grinding. The recipe for steak tartare below recommends the chopping method but you can use any of the following.
If you are going for a precise look and style to your steak tartare, you can cut the steak very carefully into perfect cubes. This sounds difficult, but if you’ve followed the earlier step of half-freezing the beef beforehand, you’ll find that the knife will cut through fairly accurately quite easily.
Make sure you have sharpened your knife for this! Cut it into slices first, then into fine strips, and finally dice the strips to create your raw beef cubes.
You don’t need to be so exact about it if you’re happy with more of a minced look. Simply take your sharp knife and chop. It’s a quick and rather slapdash way to create a beef tartare recipe but it works just fine.
If you like, you can cube the steak first as above, and then run your knife through it several times to mince it up. This way, you can be sure that you’ve got pieces of roughly the same size, and won’t come across any lumps.
Another method is to grind it into a mince. Obviously, you can only do this if you have a grinder. If you do, then the main thing to remember is to keep your beef grinder spotlessly clean and sanitized between each use to avoid the spread of bacteria.
You want to use chilled meat cut into large chunks, and feed them through your grinder – preferably that you’ve also chilled, to stop the meat from warming up in the process. If you can, keep a bowl of ice cubes to one side, and place the cut meat directly on top of the ice cubes as you prepare the rest, to keep it cool.
4. Serving the steak tartare
When you order a beef tartare at a restaurant, it will traditionally be served up in an attractive circle shape, with a stack of crispy toast at the side. Often you’ll find that the pickles and capers are served separately so you can add them according to your own taste. There might be a garnish of chopped herbs or salad leaves on top.
Very often, it’ll be served with a raw egg yolk balanced on the beef. The egg creates a nice textural glue to bind the dish together. You can, by all means, use an egg yourself too – just make sure it is fresh. If you’d rather not have totally raw egg yolks, you can poach the egg yolk in boiling water for 15 seconds before adding it to the beef.
It’s doubtful that the original Tatars would have taken the time to balance an egg yolk on top of their own version of the recipe!
The beauty of making steak tartare yourself is that you can obviously serve it up however you like. The actual preparation of this recipe should only take a total time of half an hour maximum, depending on how finely chopped you like your ingredients.
Steak tartare recipe
Steak tartare ingredients
Steak tartare for 4 persons
- 600g good quality fresh steak
- 1 shallot
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 4 pickles
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 2 spoons of mayonnaise
- Dash of Worcestershire sauce
- Dash of Tabasco sauce
- Salt and ground pepper
- Fries and lamb's lettuce to serve
How to make steak tartare
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the tartare meat very fine. Do not grind.
2. Chop the shallot very finely
3. Chop the capers and pickles very finely
4. Chop the parsley
5. Mix the meat together with all the ingredients – the finely chopped shallots, chopped capers, chopped pickles, and chopped parsley. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, and mayonnaise. Add a squeeze of lemon along with the salt and pepper.
At this point, you can cover the mixture and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours until you’re ready to eat it. This will even enhance the flavors. However, don’t leave it any longer than three hours maximum as it’ll start to brown and be less appetizing.
6. Mold the mixture into a round shape very gently. If you like, you could do this by using a mold or cutter here to give it a circular shape. Don’t press too hard – you want it to be light and fluffy.
7. Serve with chips and lamb's lettuce (also known as corn salad). Enjoy!
Hopefully, this recipe has reassured you that beef tartare can be created at home in no time at all, and doesn’t have to be eaten only in a restaurant!
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