The ultimate steak tartare: raw facts, do’s and don’ts

Eating raw beef, is it safe? As long as you follow the rules. Here's how to make steak tartare, what cut to choose and how to season it perfectly.

Raw beef for the win!

Steak tartare is a popular Belgian and French dish that consists of raw beef mixed with seasonings and served with toast or crackers.

It may sound intimidating, but it is actually very easy to make at home, as long as you follow some simple rules.

Do you know how to prepare the perfect steak tartare? Let me show you what the right cut of meat is and the right flavors and textures to add to it.

You would be surprised by how delicious and satisfying this dish can be!

What is steak tartare?

Steak tartare is a dish that originated in France, where it is also known as tartare de boeuf or simply tartare.

It is made with finely chopped or minced raw beef that is seasoned with salt, pepper, mustard, capers, onions, parsley, and sometimes egg yolk. The meat is usually shaped into a mound or a patty and served with toast, crackers, or salad greens. Some variations of steak tartare include adding worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, ketchup or other delicious condiments.

Restaurants will offer you 2 options when you order steak tartare: either you assemble your meat with the condiment you like, or the staff will prepare it for you – in the kitchen or even table side in some cases.

Origin

The origin of steak tartare is unclear, but some historians believe that it was inspired by the Tartars, a nomadic people who lived in Central Asia and Europe between the 13th and 17th centuries.

The Tartars were known for eating raw meat that they tenderized by placing it under their saddles while riding. However, this theory has been disputed by others who claim that the Tartars cooked their meat and that the name of the dish is simply a coincidence.

The popularity of steak tartare rose in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in Parisian bistros and cafes.

It became a symbol of sophistication and elegance, as well as a way to enjoy the freshness and quality of the beef.

Today, steak tartare is still a popular dish in France and other countries, such as Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada.

Why you should try steak tartare

If you have never tried steak tartare before, you might be wondering why anyone would want to eat raw meat.

Well, there are many reasons why steak tartare is a great dish to try, such as:

  • It is delicious. Steak tartare has a rich and savory flavor that is enhanced by the seasonings and the contrast of textures. The meat is tender and juicy, while the capers add a tangy crunch and the egg yolk adds a creamy richness. The toast or crackers provide a crispy contrast and a way to scoop up the meat.
  • It is nutritious. Steak tartare is high in protein and iron, which are essential for your health and energy. It also contains vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, and other minerals that are beneficial for your immune system, metabolism and skin. The egg yolk adds healthy fats and cholesterol that are good for your brain and hormones. The parsley adds vitamin C and antioxidants that help fight inflammation and infections.
  • It is easy to make. Steak tartare doesn’t require any cooking or special commercial restaurant equipment. All you need is a sharp knife, a cutting board, a bowl, and a spoon. You can really prepare it in less than 15 minutes and enjoy it straight away or refrigerate it for later.
  • It is customizable. Steak tartare can be adapted to your personal taste and preferences. You can adjust the amount of salt, pepper, mustard, capers, onions, parsley, and egg yolk to suit your palate. You can also add other ingredients that you like, such as cornichons, anchovies, cheese, herbs, or spices. You can also change the shape of the meat from a mound to a patty or a ring.

How to choose the right cut of meat for steak tartare

The most important thing to consider when making steak tartare is the quality of the meat.

You want to use fresh beef that is lean and tender, preferably from grass-fed cows that are raised without hormones or antibiotics. You also want to use beef that has been properly handled and stored to avoid any contamination or spoilage.

The best cuts of meat for steak tartare

  • Filet mignon: This is the most expensive and luxurious cut of beef. It comes from the tenderloin section of the cow and has very little fat or connective tissue. It is very soft and delicate in texture and flavor.
  • Sirloin: This is a more affordable and widely available cut of beef. It comes from the rear part of the cow and has more fat and flavor than filet mignon. It is still tender enough for steak tartare but has more chewiness.
  • Top round: This is another economical and common cut of beef. It comes from the upper leg of the cow and has less fat than sirloin but more than filet mignon. It has a mild flavor and a firm texture.

You can use any of these cuts for steak tartare, depending on your budget and preference.

You can also mix different cuts to create a balance of fat and flavor. The most important thing is to use fresh beef that is well-trimmed of any excess fat or sinew.

How to Chop or Mince the Meat for Steak Tartare

Once you have chosen the cut of meat for steak tartare, you need to chop or mince it into small pieces.

You can do this by hand or by using a food processor, depending on how fine or coarse you want the meat to be.

If you want to chop the meat by hand, you need to use a sharp chef’s knife and a large cutting board. You should also freeze the meat for about 15 minutes before chopping it, to make it easier to cut and to prevent any bacteria growth. To chop the meat by hand, follow these steps:

  • Cut the meat into thin slices, about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
  • Stack a few slices on top of each other and cut them into thin strips, about ¼ inch (6 mm) wide.
  • Gather the strips together and cut them crosswise into small cubes, about ⅛ inch (3 mm) in size.
  • Repeat with the remaining slices until you have chopped all the meat.
  • Transfer the chopped meat to a large bowl and toss it with your hands to separate the pieces.

If you want to mince the meat using a food processor, you need to use a metal blade and work in batches.

You should also freeze the meat for about 15 minutes before mincing it, to make it easier to process and to prevent any bacteria growth.

To mince the meat using a food processor, follow these steps:

  • Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Freeze the meat for about 15 minutes or until firm but not frozen solid.
  • Transfer the meat cubes to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely minced, scraping down the sides as needed. Do not overprocess the meat or it will become mushy.
  • Repeat with the remaining meat cubes until you have minced all the meat.
  • Transfer the minced meat to a large bowl and toss it with your hands to separate the pieces.

How to season and shape the meat for steak tartare

After you have chopped or minced the meat for steak tartare, you need to season it with salt, pepper, mustard, capers, onions, parsley, and egg yolk.

You can also add other ingredients that you like, such as Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, ketchup, or other condiments. You should season the meat right before serving it, to preserve its freshness and flavor.

To season and shape the meat for steak tartare, follow these steps:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together one egg yolk with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • In another small bowl, chop about two tablespoons of capers and one small onion. Set aside.
  • In another small bowl, chop about a quarter cup of fresh parsley. Set aside.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste to the chopped or minced meat and toss well with your hands.
  • Add half of the egg yolk mixture and half of the caper-onion mixture and toss well with your hands.
  • Add half of the parsley and toss well with your hands.
  • Taste the meat and adjust the seasoning as needed. You can add more of any ingredient or add other ingredients that you like.
  • Shape the seasoned meat into a mound or a patty on a large plate or platter. You can use a ring mold or a cookie cutter to create a neat shape if you want.
  • Make a small indentation in the center of the meat and fill it with the remaining egg yolk mixture.
  • Sprinkle the remaining caper-onion mixture and parsley over the top of the meat.
  • Serve with toast, crackers, or salad greens.

How to enjoy steak tartare

Steak tartare is best enjoyed as soon as possible after preparing it, while it is still fresh and cold.

You can eat it with a fork or a spoon, or use toast or crackers as scoops. You can also spread it on bread or lettuce leaves for a low-carb option.

Some people like to mix everything together before eating it, while others like to keep some ingredients separate and add them as they go. There is no right or wrong way to eat steak tartare, as long as you enjoy it!

Steak tartare is a great dish for lunch or dinner, or as an appetizer or snack. It is also perfect for parties and gatherings, as you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to serve. Just make sure to keep it well-covered and cold at all times.

Steak tartare is also very versatile and can be paired with different drinks and sides. It is usually served with a green salad and fries, or grilled bread.

For drinks, is often paired with red wine like a Côtes du Rhône Villages, a red from Burgundy, or a Beaujolais. If you are more into white wines, try an Alsace Pinot Gris or a Bandol Blanc.

Belgian toast cannibale

A disappearing treat!

Toast cannibale, sounds pretty mental – however it is a very simple treat.

Grilled bread topped with a seasoned beef tartare, often served with raw onion for extra crunch and freshness. You either love it or you don’t!

Nowadays you won’t find it that much anymore on a menu.

The best one with spicy sauce we have had so far was at restaurant Bourla in Antwerp, Belgium.

Epic!

Best steak tartare in Brussels

Aux Armes de Bruxelles
Rue des Bouchers 13
1000 Brussels
Belgium

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