Steak Tartare can be a scary sounding meal, I get it. But with a little knowledge and safety precautions taken it can be a delightful, classy meal. I love it as a posh Sunday lunch (ideally on a long weekend) alongside a fruity glass of red wine. It’s great for date night or for a more casual meal and is always yummy with lots of toasted baguettes.Jump to Recipe
So let’s jump right in with everyone’s main concern with Steak Tartare; It’s raw meat. On the surface of this issue, raw beef is actually fine for humans to eat. Lots of folks eat their steaks rare or blue, with the outside just barely seared. The issues of illness come from contamination in the handling process. Keeping a clean workspace, wearing gloves, and using the freshest meat possible are the best ways to prevent illness.
It’s not generally considered a good idea to eat raw ground beef for example, because the meat has been through a grinding machine. The grinding process creates a lot more opportunity for germ contamination through human contact and machine contact. I would not recommend eating raw ground beef. However, Steak Tartare is usually made with diced steak, which allows for MUCH more care to be taken in cleanliness.
Talk to Your Butcher
Having a butcher that you trust, and who you know is impeccable in their cleaning regimen is important. (If you’re in the West Ottawa Area, try my favourite, The Almonte Butcher Shop. It’s well worth the slight drive!) The next step is telling your butcher that you plan to make Steak Tartare. They also don’t want you to get sick and can direct you to the freshest cuts. You also want to avoid fattier cuts of meat. Fats have a higher risk of containing contaminants than muscle, since a lot of germs enjoy eating fats. So try your best to choose a very lean cut like a tenderloin.
The Colder the Better
The next thing you can do to keep things safe is keep things cold. It’s a good idea to partially freeze the meat you’ll be using before cutting it. This will make cutting it easier, as well as making the meat too cold for most germs to be comfortable on. I’ve even used cuts that I had fully frozen before, and just thawed in the fridge partially. In industry kitchens, some cooks will also chill their cutting boards and knives; And some will do all their prep inside the walk in fridge.
Finally, clean everything you’ll be using very well, and wear disposable gloves during the prep. As an extra precaution, I will prepare everything else first, ending with cutting and mixing the steak tartare right before eating it.
Acids and Flavour
The final part of making your steak tartare safe to eat is actually the flavouring you add. Even using a very lean cut of meat, raw beef can still be quite rich. So we balance that out with acidic ingredients, salt, and strong flavours like shallots. All of this is brought together and given a slight creaminess using egg yolk. It may sound weird to add an egg yolk to this, but trust me, without it the texture is wet and slimy, instead of soft and luxurious. The proteins of the egg yolk and on the outer layer of the beef will begin to denature due to the acidity and salt. Not only does that partially “cook” them but it will cause the egg to more easily emulsify with the acids.
This recipe is for 2 main course size servings, but can be made into 4 appetizer servings as well. Serve an appetizer sized serving along with another classic, Caesar Salad for a delicious dinner.
- 220 g Lean Beef Tenderloin Steak
- 2 tbsp Shallot Finely Diced
- 2 tbsp Capers Finely Diced
- 1/8 tsp Chili Flakes
- 1/2 tsp Grainy Mustard
- 1/2 tsp Basil Dry
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Each, Salt & Pepper
- 1 Egg Yolk
- Half a baguette Thinly sliced and Toasted, to serve.
- Flaked Salt to serve.
- Place the steak into the freezer for about an hour, or until it's just beginning to freeze and is very firm. Thoroughly clean your cutting board, a very sharp knife, and a medium bowl.
- Just before removing the steak from the freezer, prepare all the other ingredients, and add them to the medium bowl.
- Remove the steak from the freezer. Wearing gloves, thinly slice the steak into sheets, about 1/8th of an inch thick. Then slice those sheets into 1/8th inch strips. And finally chop those strips into 1/8th inch cubes. The size doesn't need to be perfect or accurate, but you're aiming for very small cubes.
- Add the steak to the bowl of other ingredients, and stir to thoroughly combine.
- Divide onto two plates and serve immediately alongside the toasted baguette pieces and a glass of red wine. Drizzle with extra olive oil and sprinkle with flaked salt if desired.