Steak Tartare

I’ve written here some about how I don’t eat grains, with the exception of the occasional bit of locally grown sweet corn or white rice – I once pointed out that grains, by their very nature, must be processed and then cooked before they can be consumed.  You just can’t go out into a wheat field, pluck a stalk and start chowing down on it.  And we all agree that processed foods are bad for us, correct?

I had a reader take exception to that, and tell me we don’t eat raw meat, either.

Well…yes, I do.

Mostly in the form of fish – I absolutely love sashimi – but I’ll quite happily scarf down some raw beef, too.  When we got our latest side of beef, instead of getting a standing rib roast, opted for 6-week dry aged rib eye steaks, which means we had to wait an extra month before we received our steaks (all of our beef is aged two weeks between slaughter and cutting).  We were told we’d get a pound or two of ground beef from the trimmings and that it would be the best ground beef we’d ever eat.

You just don’t make a statement like that and not expect me to obsess over what I’m going to do with it, but it didn’t take me long to decide we were going to eat it raw in the form of Steak Tartare.

Steak tartare is nothing more than raw, minced beef; often mixed with condiments such as grated onion, mustard and Worcestershire sauce and topped with a raw egg yolk, which acts as a sauce as the tartare is eaten.  It was once considered haute cuisine, but has fallen out of favor in recent years, mostly due to the Mad Cow scare.  I certainly wouldn’t eat commercial CAFO beef raw, especially ground, but since I know where our beef comes from and how it’s processed I had absolutely no problem eating this marvelous ground rib eye, along with a pastured egg yolk, au naturale.

And it was delicious.

So don’t fear the raw meat, especially if you can get grass-finished beef from a reliable source.  And think of the French, who sometimes make tartare with…horse.  Which makes even me go “ewwwww.”

As written, this recipe makes 4 appetizer portions; you can also make it two entrees if you like (which is what we did.)  We ate it on Belgian endive, but if you eat bread, it is traditionally served with some sort of toast, mostly rye.  Slices of toasted baguette would work well, too.

Note:  The recipe calls for beef tenderloin simply because it’s the most tender cut of the animal, with a mild flavor.  If the price is just prohibitive, however, use a good, lean, less expensive cut like top round.

Steak Tartare
Steak Tartare
Serves: 4
  • 8 ounces beef tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (wheat and HFCS free)
  • 1 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoons chopped cornichons (tiny gherkins)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 large egg yolks
  1. Grind or finely chop the tenderloin. Gently mix it with the remaining ingredients except for the egg yolks. Tightly wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend.
  2. Divide the beef mixture evenly between four plates and pat into round patties, making a depression in the center. Place a whole egg yolk in each depression. Garnish each plate with additional mustard, capers, onions and cornichons. Serve with endive leaves.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 209 calories, 15.1g total fat, 230.4mg cholesterol, 887.2mg sodium, 256.6mg potassium, 2.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 15g protein.




18 thoughts on “Steak Tartare”

  1. Courage, lads and lasses!

    That is one of those dishes I have been circling around and around, wanting to try, but agreeing it would be edible to me is a matter that is decided in my mind (and to borrow the words of John Thorne) “…mostly by appetite duking it out with disgust.”

    I think a lot of my trepidation arises from that issue you mention of knowing the origin of the beef and eggs. If I had the same connection to them that you illuminate, I would have very little hesitancy to try. Curiosity, you know!

    (And in case you were wondering, that quote is from John Thorne’s essay ‘Pasta With Anchovies’ in the Ruminative Cook chapter of his book Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite.)

  2. Nice! I think I’m almost ready for this – I get my meat from a farm down the road, but I haven’t seen their processing, so that’s the last step. Nice picture, too!

  3. Nice! I don’t like using ground meat for tartar though, I like to chop it myself. Then again, I’m a chef, so it doesn’t take me long. LOL

    I like using inside round for tartar. While tenderloin is nice and tender, I just find there isn’t that much flavor to the meat – and the inside round has never done me wrong. All that for 1/2 the price.

    I remember reading somewhere that tartar originated from the Mongols (I think,) who used to cut strips of lean meat from their butchered horses, and put them under their saddles when they rode. After a long day of riding, the meat would be tender. I know I read that somewhere – it’s too strange for me to make it up! LOL

  4. I am SLOWLY coming around on sushi, still really only limit myself to California rolls which are my weekly cheat with rice, but I don’t think I would be brave enough to try raw meat, certified or otherwise. But you’re still alive, so point in favor! 🙂

  5. I love it! I have tasted raw grass-fed meat but now that you’ve done this and lived to tell about it, I can’t wait to try it too…you’re my hero. 🙂

  6. It makes a world of difference since we know our farmers, butchers and food but this really was delicious. And filling! Beautiful presentation and I got to eat the picture!

  7. I can eat beef steak seared on the outside and almost raw on the inside so I don’t think I’d have a problem with the raw beef part. However I like my egg yolks cooked all the way through so the raw egg yolk would stop me right there.

    As a kid I had a great “Horses of the World” photo book. I remember one breed from France that was specifically a meat animal. They looked like a draft horse, very “meaty”, and even as a horse lover I wondered what they would taste like. But I never considered butchering one of my own horses!

  8. Beef: salted and aged
    mustard: processed almost exactly like grains, then stored in a fermented substance (wine or vinegar)
    Worcestershire sauce: nobody knows how it’s made, but it’s pretty certain that it involves several decades and at least five different cooking methods, to say nothing of the anchovies and brown sugar
    capers: pickled
    gherkins: pickled in both salt and vinegar
    anchovies: cooked, pickled, canned
    salt: purified from rocks or sea water to make sure no algae remains
    black pepper: hulled (to remove fruit), washed, and ground, like a grain

    Nope, no processing here at all.

    1. What is your definition of “processed?” If I dig a carrot out of the ground I process it for eating. Even if I don’t wipe off the dirt. Refined starches, let alone seed oils” are “processed” to DEATH (of us all). “Real food” (which this blog represents) doesn’t need to be extremist.

  9. Great recipe, I must admit though I am addicted to Steak tartare and find it a must to have fortnightly at the least. I was rather surprised when my Indonesian wife ate it and liked it as Indonesians tend to cremate their meat, other friends I have given a taste to have also asked for more. Being Islamic which apparently forbids the eating of bloodied meat she and others who have come for a BBQ at our place now like a good rare steak. Living in Asia one must not be squeamish and think of how the meat is processed if you did you wouldn’t eat.

    For those who haven’t tried horse meat I can definitely recommend it along with kangaroo, crocodile and emu, I advise you give dog a miss, I wasn’t at all taken with the flavour when given it in China.

  10. I will be 81 in July, and raw and undercooked beef, tuna, salmon have always been my most favorite foods. But I usually don’t tell anybody about it. So nice to see these delicacies lauded instead of demeaned.

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