Steak Tartare

Going back to the 1980’s in an episode of the then popular TV sitcom “The Facts of Life” the debonair character of Blair Warner was asked what Steak Tartare is, she answered: “A Whopper, hold the heat!” (At that time the Burger King jingle went: “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us”).

Now that you have a solid definition of what Steak Tartare is let’s go a little more into it. The name is attributed to the tale that the Tatar /Tartar warriors of Genghis Khan’s army kept their daily rations of meat under their saddle, riding on it all day to tenderize it and then eating it raw. This can not be proven, but the legend is still told nowadays.

Steak Tartare or Tatar

The German name for this dish is “Tatar” and, as I found during my research, the German settlers in Pennsylvania supposedly introduced it here in the United States.

This post goes back to a Jeopardy question last week, where again the ingredient of beef tenderloin was listed as the meat, so looking online and in some of my cookbooks, there seems to be a large number of people writing about it with way too much money at their disposal.

Here are some questions:

  • Let us say you grind some meat at least one more time than hamburger, how tough will the meat be?
  • If you take meat and grind it would you really spend over $15 per pound?
  • You add a nice amount of raw onions, pepper, salt and serve other very salty sides with it, how much of a difference between the taste of tenderloin or round steak can your taste buds still detect?

Between you and me, I would rather use a beef tenderloin for Steak Diane, Beef Wellington, Chateaubriand or just wrap it with bacon and throw it on the grill!

During our time in the meat business we sold hundreds of pounds of “Hackfleisch zum Rohessen” (Ground meat to eat raw), we also prepared hundreds of pounds for private parties and never had a single complaint about the quality and taste. There was also never a complaint that the meat was tough. For a price of about $5 per pound, there is no way that any butcher or meat cutter in their right mind would use Filet Mignon. For goodness sake, it is just ground beef!

Now I agree, that the piece of meat has to be as lean as possible and for this you actually do not have to go into USDA Choice graded meat. A lean USDA Select Sirloin Tip, Bottom or Top Round, with little marbleizing, all fat, connective tissue and grizzle trimmed away is perfect for this dish. Also the highest standards of sanitation should be part of the process, as you have to be careful of cross contamination.

The meat should be ground at least three times, as quickly as possible, to keep it from warming up during the grinding process, as this would cut down the shelf life considerably.

The recipe calls for Meat, Pepper, Salt, Onions and an Egg Yolk. The onions should be chopped finely for this. Mix all five ingredients together, with salt and pepper to taste, remember you will put a salt and pepper shaker on the table, so don’t overdo it!

In our house we serve it with a buttered hard roll or a French baguette, you can also serve some capers and anchovies on the side.

If you believe in the rules and regulations governing your standing as a gourmet you will definitely not agree with me and I would like to suggest to keep on ordering your meats from the western steak companies. I am not a gourmet, I just love to eat good food and plenty of it.



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