How to Make Steak Tartare

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Steak tartare is classic French bistro food -- simple, elegant and understated. But quality, lean beef and a few well-chosen garnishes are only part of what you need to re-create the tartare from your favorite Parisian bistro at home; you also need food-safety controls. The first is temperature; you have to keep tartare under 40 degrees Fahrenheit -- the threshold under which bacteria can't multiply. You don't want to introduce bacteria to the beef, either, so wear food-handler gloves when making tartare, or scrub your hands like a surgeon before you do.

Things You'll Need

  • Chef's knife
  • Meat grinder (optional)
  • All-purpose bleach
  • Top round or eye of round
  • Condiments, such as capers and shallots
  • Eggs (optional)

Setting Up for Safety

  • Soak the blade of the chef's knife, a spoon and, if using, a meat-grinder attachment with a medium die, in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of bleach and 1 gallon of cool water for 1 minute. Air-dry the knife, spoon and grinder and place them in the refrigerator.

  • Rinse the beef under cold running water for a couple of minutes and drain it on a plate lined with paper towels. Pat the beef dry with paper towels.

  • Transfer the beef to a shallow dish and coat it with kosher salt until covered on all sides. Let the beef sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

  • Rinse the salt from the beef and let the excess water drain from it for a minute. Set the beef in a shallow dish and blot up the surface moisture with a paper towel.

  • Chill the beef in the freezer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Fill a large bowl about 1/3 of the way to the top with ice and set a stainless steel or glass mixing bowl in it.

The Technique

  • Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Slice the beef into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces.

  • Chop the beef until coarse; you don't want a paste, but you don't want chewy chunks, either. If using a grinder, grind the beef using the medium die. Transfer the beef to the mixing bowl set over ice as soon as you chop it or grind it.

  • Season the tartare to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix the tartare and chill it in the refrigerator while you prepare the condiments.

  • Mince half a shallot and portion a tablespoon or so of capers for each serving of tartare. Provide small portions of herbs, sauces and garnishes so your guests can finish their tartare to taste. A simple vinaigrette, a good olive oil and a quality mustard all work as sauces; substitute anything piquant, such as pepperoncini or cherry peppers, for capers; include freshly chopped parsley to round out the flavors.

  • Form the tartare into a disc or discs that measure about 1/2 inch thick. Make one large disc if serving family style, and smaller individual discs if serving individually.

  • Make a shallow well in the top of each tartare disc with the bottom of a spoon and pour a yolk from a pasteurized egg in it. Egg yolks are classic, but entirely optional; they serve as a simple, fatty sauce and add creaminess to the lean beef.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're serving family style, place each condiment in neat, individual mounds around the tartare on a large carving board. If serving individually, place the tartare in the center of a plate or small carving board and place a spoonful of each condiment around it.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking ground beef to 160 F.
  • Pregnant and nursing women, children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems shouldn't eat steak tartare.

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References

  • Photo Credit Lisovskaya/iStock/Getty Images
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