Steak Tartare is a unique and classy dish, but one that comes with some inherent risks. After all, you’re consuming raw meat, an idea that scares a lot of people! Is it possible to prepare this dish at home in a safe manner? And if so, how?
The important thing is to make sure you’re buying the freshest meat possible, then wash it and salt it down to kill the bacteria.
There is plenty more to be said about this dish, but that’s the key. Salt is a natural bacteria killer and is something that every kitchen is likely to have handy. Making homemade Steak Tartare safe is possible, but you have to be careful!
For a more detailed explanation of the process, as well as just what this dish is and where it comes from, read on!
What Is Steak Tartare?
Steak Tartare is a dish ideally made of finely chopped, high-quality meat and served raw. The typical version is also known as Beef Tartare, separating it from other variations which include tuna and goat meat. Eggs and seasonings are mixed with the beef with the whole being served raw, either slightly chilled or at room temperature.
While it’s strongly associated with France, it’s thought to have been imported there by Russians and Eastern Europeans. It’s also got some fancy connotations, being thought of as a high-end bistro item. But while it requires some care, it’s very much something you can aspire to make at home!
Where Does Steak Tartare Come From?
Today we know Steak Tartare to be comprised of raw beef, after all a typical steak is made from cow meat. However it’s said that the dish was originally made from horse meat! Don’t hear about that every day, why would that be the case for a so-called ‘steak’ dish?
The explanation is that beef was hard to come by during the 1870 Franco-Prussian war where the dish was popularized. Horse meat was considered a good alternative due to it’s lack of parasites. It probably goes without saying that this is a serious concern when you’re eating raw meat!
There are two theories out there about the origin of Steak Tartare. According to Steakhouse Maravilla, the dish may have evolved from the French Polynesian tradition of raw meat. And this was combined with a revamp on the classic French tartar sauce, provided by Georges Auguste Escoffier. These two came together at the right time to create Steak Tartare.
However there’s a more apocryphal, but much more fun tale regarding the dish as well. Legend has it that several centuries ago, the Genghis Khan-led Mongol riders came up with the idea. So the story goes, they would put slabs of horse meat beneath their saddles, to be pulverized during long soldiering sessions. After returning from missions, they’d take out the meat and eat it raw!
How To Make Steak Tartare
It’s natural to be worried, and wise to exercise caution when it comes to eating raw meat. But we’re looking to explain step by step in very simple terms how to ensure that your Steak Tartare is as safe as it is delicious.
Preparing the Steak
The first thing you need to ensure is freshness. It’s by far the best way to be certain that it’s safe to eat, make sure you’re buying a fresh, whole piece of meat. Lean meat preferably; that will allow for less trimming time later on.
Talk to your butcher about this, let them know your intention is to eat the steak as a tartare. Demanding the freshest they have might seem a bit pompous otherwise! But if they know the situation, they’re likely to understand and do as you ask.
Grass fed sirloin steak is one big recommendation for tartare. It fits the bill as a lean cut that needs little trimming, and it’s packed with flavor. It should be noted that a steak of that size should make for 2-3 portions, since 4 ounces is about the right size for steak tartare.
Whatever you do though, avoid ground beef unless you’re grounding it up from a whole meat yourself. That’s a mixture from several different cows making it far more dangerous to eat raw, that one always needs cooking. Besides, it’s not the right texture for steak tartare in the slightest.
Salting the Steak
Buying fresh is the best way to avoid worrying about any bacteria on the interior, but what about the exterior? Well that’s what the salt is for. Yes, salt isn’t just for taste in this case. It’s actually fantastic when it comes to killing off bacteria!
Before applying this, be sure to give your hands a thorough wash and then rinse the beef under some cold water. Dry it off to the best of your ability. Then commence the salting, and make sure it’s salted well on all sides. You’re aiming to get a nice even layer here.
Don’t worry too much about how much salt you’re using, just make sure you don’t leave it on there for too long. Cover the steak like that and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour to let the salt do its job. Not much longer than that though, or else you risk letting the steak cure!
From there repeat the rinsing and drying process. Now your steak is ready to tartare!
Making the Tartare
That might make it sound more complicated than it is. All it means to turn it into tartare is to just cut the beef up until it has the proper consistency. Trim off any fat or tendons here; again if you got lean meat, there shouldn’t be much to do there.
After that you could grind up the meat if you wish, or cut it by hand with a sharp knife if you want to do it like the pros! If you go that route, go ahead and start by slicing it into a fine square cube. Run your knife through it over and over, really make minced meat out of that meat! Take your time with this, don’t rush it.
Seasoning the Tartare
At this stage your beef will likely still have a bit of a bland taste to it, so some seasoning is definitely in order. Our suggestion is to first dress the tartare with a simple vinaigrette. Some red wine vinegar and olive oil will go nicely here, about a tablespoon’s worth.
Our old pal salt was a big help in making the food safe, so why not let give it a place on the finished meal too? A big pinch of it, and maybe some pepper as well, wouldn’t go amiss for sure. After you stir these in, go ahead and give it a taste!
Remember, you’re eating it raw anyhow, and it’s safe to consume by this point, so why not take advantage? You can sample it during the seasoning process to make sure it’s just right before proceeding to the next step.
Now it’s time for the other thing – aside from the rawness – that really sets this dish apart from its contemporaries. The egg isn’t just added for novelty though, as tartare is very lean at this stage and needs some good fat to even it out. (Better fat than what we removed earlier, naturally!)
That’s where the egg comes in! This can be done quick and easy if you want, you can simply separate an egg yolk and drop it onto the meat. But for best results, take a bit of time to do a quick poaching on the yolk, making it into a small balloon for easier handling.
To achieve this, just separate the yolk and gently dunk it into some steaming water. Leave it in for approximately 15 seconds and voila!
Plating the Steak Tartare
You really don’t need to do anything special here if you don’t want to. Serving it in a small bowl or just piling it up casually on a plate is fine. But if you feel like getting fancy, you can always use a cookie cutter as a mold!
Add the egg as the final touch, along with perhaps a little extra salt or olive oil. Then to complete the dish for the full-on bistro experience, pile the plate with some minced shallot, capers, toast and pickled veggies!
What Other Meat Can Be Eaten Raw?
Raw beef is considered the safest of traditional meats to be eaten raw. That’s for the same reason that horse meat was the substitute way back when, due to lack of parasites. Compare that to chicken or pork, which are both considered more dangerous to eat raw.
Raw fish – aside from those with high levels of mercury within them – are considered to be very healthy options as well. These include raw tuna and raw sushi.
7 Reasons Why You Should Try Steak Tartare
#1 – It’s Easily Digestible
You may be interested to know that raw meat is actually easier to digest than cooked meat. Steak can definitely be tough on those who suffer from digestion issues. If that sounds like you, Steak Tartare might be a nice option for you!
#2 – It’s Protein-Packed
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of protein-heavy food? Chances are your answer there is either red meat or raw egg yolk. So hey, how about that, a dish that seamlessly combines them both in a tasty package! If you’re looking to pack on mass, Steak Tartare is a great choice!
#3 – It’s Full Of Healthy Enzymes
You might not think even safe-to-consume raw meat would be especially healthy, but you’d be wrong there. The truth is, there’s a lot of important enzymes in meat that get killed off during the cooking process. That’s why Steak Tartare is popular among the health-conscious, reaping the benefits of the nutrients in raw meat.
#4 – It’s A Source Of Vitamin B And C
The Vitamin B in raw meat is often cited as a benefit to your reproductive health. That’s another strong health benefit. Meanwhile Vitamin C is known for being an essential part of a functioning immune system.
It’s largely associated with citrusy foods, but in point of fact, it’s contained in many meats as well. But just like the enzymes mentioned above, the cooking process rids meat of those vitamins.
#5 – It’s A Gateway To Interesting New Dishes
If Steak Tartare seems like a daring or exotic dish to you, that can be its own reason to try it out. If you end up liking it, it might open up a whole host of new possibilities for you. Those that are hesitant to try out new foods often only need a simple nudge in the right direction to start getting bolder. Steak Tartare could be that first step for you.
#6 – It Allows For Better Oxygen Flow In Your Body
You might revolt a bit at seeing red juices flowing from raw meat. It’s easy to assume that it’s the blood of whatever animal you’re consuming. But in actuality it’s a mix of water and protein referred to as myoglobin. It actually helps move oxygen to your muscles, one of the bigger perks of eating tartare.
#7 – It’s Delicious
Of course taste is subjective, but with all this health talk, you might be presuming it’s one of those superfoods more sought after for nutrition than flavor. However many people rave about it being a flavorful and tasty dish. Some go so far as to swear that it tastes better than actual steak!
Steak Tartare is a classy meal for sure, but don’t listen to the doubters and elitists. Some might urge you to leave this one to the professionals, but that’s not what we’re about around here!
As long as you take the proper precautions to heart, there’s no reason you can’t make homemade Steak Tartare that’s perfectly safe to eat. But that’s no small thing to emphasize. Follow our steps closely if you’re going for it, as you really can’t get careless when it comes to raw meat!
Do it right and your meal will be more than safe to consume. It’ll be a meal that’s jam-packed with nutrition and flavor alike! And making it will make you feel like a high-end bistro chef without the need to go to one!