French Steak Tartare is a classic recipe which enhances the pure flavor of the meat, assuming you have a cannibal instinct! In France, the Tartare is an institution since the second part of the XIX Century. This recipe requires prime quality meat and various ingredients depending on the several variations. Here the history and the recipe this delicious dish!
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FRENCH STEAK TARTARE ORIGIN
The French-style Tartare requires some fixed ingredients and some others optional to enrich even more this recipe, like Worcestershire sauce and anchovies.
The original name of this tasty recipe is “Le steak at l’Americaine”, but the origin of this name is unknown. One of the most ancient descriptions of French Steak Tartare is by writer Jules Verne in his novel Michel Strogoff (1875), and become the signature dish of the restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, “Le Jules Verne”.
The great Chef Auguste Escoffier published his version of the steak tartare in the Fourth edition of his Cookbook “Le Guide Culinaire”(1921). In the Escoffier variation, the meat has not been seasoned with yolks and served along with Tartare Sauce.
In 1938, another great chef, Prosper Montagné wrote another version of the Tartare in his book “Larousse Gastronomique”. The Montagne variation requires yolks instead of the Tartare sauce.
As I said, the several variations of the French Steak Tartare differ on some ingredients. Here the main differences:
- Yolks: raw yolks (best if pasteurized) are a common component of the French Tartare: frequently served whole and placed over the meat, or mixed with the other ingredients just before serving. But, not all the recipe variations require yolks: replaced with Tartare Sauce or classic Mayonnaise.
- Herbs: someone use fresh parsley, somebody else prefer to add chives. Personally, I prefer the French Tartare variation without any herbs to save the taste of the other ingredients.
- Meat: commonly the most used meat is beef: Eye of round or fillet mignon. But, the horse meat is very popular as well in France and in Italy.
- Onions: white onions are a good choice, but scallions or spring onions are perfect as well.
- Anchovies: in some variations a preserved anchovy is required, minced.
- Worcestershire sauce: same story of the anchovy. I prefer not.
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FRENCH STEAK TARTARE RECIPE
- 2 Lb (900 g) Eye of Round beef or fillet mignon
- 2 yolks (alternatively, 1 tsp mayonnaise)
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp capers in vinegar
- 3 oz (85 g) pickled baby cucumber (Cornichons)
- 2 scallions
- 1 anchovy in oil (optional)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 dash black pepper
- to taste table salt
- To avoid any foodborne risk, I strongly suggest you freeze the meat 3 days before preparing the tartare. After this time, thaw the meat in the fridge and use as soon as possible.
- Reduce the meat into cubes, then mince finely with a chef’s knife.
- After that, season the meat with the filtered juice of a lemon, the olive oil, the Dijon mustard, the minced anchovy (this last is optional) and salt and black pepper to taste. Finally, knead the steak tartare until consistent, then pour the meat into a sieve placed over a bowl, and store in the fridge, covered.
- Now, mince the white part of the scallions, and capers, then dice the Cornichons.
- After that, knead the tartare along with the Cornichons, scallions, and capers. Optionally season with Worcestershire sauce and 2 yolks or 1 tbsp of mayonnaise.
- Shape eventually the steak tartare in four parts and serve immediately.