I was still small when I discovered that I did not mind rare (raw!) meat. I remember when my mom used to buy our meat from the butcher at month-end… A Friday afternoon would be spent packing the meat, sausages and ground beef into portions and packing it into the freezer. I always tried to sneak a pinch of the ground beef. I loved the taste of it, but always felt very naughty doing so. My folks would not ever consider having a steak that was not super well done, so what demented child was I, eating raw meat like that?! As I got older, much to my relief I came to realise that some people did actually prefer their steaks cooked medium or even medium rare and when I saw beef carpaccio on a menu for the first time I knew that I was fine!
The first time I heard of steak tartare was on my favourite cooking/travel show of all time – Rick Stein’s French Odyssey. According to him it was a very fashionable dish in France in the sixties and it seemed to have made a comeback in recent years. In the program he told a story of how, when he’d order it, French waiters would always pull up their noses at him and say indignantly “You know that it is raw, sir!”. He was delighted by the fact that an Englishman could prove them wrong and eat it without even batting an eyelid. On the show, when he made it, I was sure that I would love it and therefore when we visited France last year I made sure that I searched it out on the menus! We found it in a little brasserie in the south west of France in a small city by the name of Narbonne and it was everything I hoped it would be – the meat full of flavour, blended beautifully with the addition of the tangy capers and gherkins, and the egg yolk giving a velvety feel to it all.
So when Frexit hit me last week, I thought back to this must-have dish and hubby and I decided to give it a try and make it ourselves, using Rick Stein’s recipe. I was so chuffed! It turned out beautifully and tasted exactly like the dish we had. (What was different though, is that the restaurant where I had it, served the rest of the ingredients separately from the meat – so that you could add your own quantity of ‘toppings’ to each little bite of beautiful beef. I must be honest, I actually prefer the way we made it in the recipe below – all mixed together.)
If you are not an adventurous eater this will not be a dish that appeals to you. But if you wonder about it – try it! You will not be disappointed! (You can also start slowly – take that pinch of ground beef sometime!)
Steak tartare with pommes frites
300g tail end of beef fillet, straight from the fridge
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
2 shallots, fine chopped
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 gherkin, finely chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
10 grinds of black pepper
2 medium egg yolks
(Rick Stein added 3 dashes of tabasco sauce to his dish, be we did not. We served it with tabasco on the side.)
- Trim the meat of all fat and sinew and chop finely by hand.
- Put the meat into a bowl with the capers, shallots, parsley, oil, gherkin, salt and pepper.
- Mix together lightly with two forks and then spoon into the centre of two plates and shape into a neatish round. (We used little round metal moulds to get a nice shape to ours.)
- Make a small indent in the top and then gently add an egg yolk to each.
- Serve with some pommes frites (good old French fries, if you are not trying to sound fancy!)
Steak tartare with pommes frites
- 300g tail end of beef fillet, straight from the fridge
- 1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
- 2 shallots, fine chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 gherkin, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 10 grinds of black pepper
- 2 medium egg yolks
- (Rick Stein added 3 dashes of tabasco sauce to his dish, be we did not. We served it with tabasco on the side.)
- Step 1 Trim the meat of all fat and sinew and chop finely by hand.
- Step 2 Put the meat into a bowl with the capers, shallots, parsley, oil, gherkin, salt and pepper.
- Step 3 Mix together lightly with two forks and then spoon into the centre of two plates and shape into a neatish round. (We used little round metal moulds to get a nice shape to ours.)
- Step 4 Make a small indent in the top and then gently add an egg yolk to each.
- Step 5 Serve with some pommes frites (good old French fries, if you are not trying to sound fancy!)