A Simple Method for Steak Tartare

19 Feb
Steak Tartare

Having health insurance is nice.

I love steak tartare. I might eat it at every meal if I didn’t think that would send my beloved into absolute hysterics. I recently decided that, at the very least, it’s time that tartare stops becoming something I only ever get at very fancy restaurants and starts being something I’m brave enough to make at home. I found a few different methods for preparing it online, and decided to go for it. Before we start, I feel the need to say that this might not be for the faint of heart, and it’s definitely not for the weak of stomach. These procedures are meant to reduce the risk of food-borne illness, but you are still eating raw meat. I think the risk is acceptable for me personally, you’ll have to make a decision for yourself.

The first step is meat selection. Generally speaking you want a rather lean and uniform cut of steak. I chose London Broil, which is also what I tend to choose for jerky. It’s nice and uniform and flavorful without being unbearably tough. I bought the nicest, freshest grass-fed piece I could get my hands on, directly from my extremely competent butcher. This is not something I would do with a smeary, plastic-wrapped abomination.

When you’re ready to make the tartare, clean your tools and work surface as well as you possibly can. I prefer to start with a cutting board and knife that are fresh from the dishwasher and a counter that has been wiped down thoroughly. Honestly, I bleach my counters fairly regularly, because I am pretty uptight, and I bleached my countertop before starting because I couldn’t remember for sure the last time I had.

Once everything is clean, it’s time to prep your meat. Some people recommend rinsing and then drying off the meat first, although I didn’t myself. Select a portion of your meat that is approximately 3-5 ounces in size and very uniform in texture, marbling, etc. and cut it out from the rest of your meat. Choose a storage container that is just barely bigger than this portion of meat and put about a half inch layer of salt in the bottom of it. Put the meat into the container and then completely cover it with salt. I used Kosher salt for this as it’s cheap and I have a lot of it. Put the container into the refrigerator and let is sit anywhere from 1-3 hours (I chose one hour). This salting step accomplishes a few things: it improves the texture and flavor (in my opinion) and desiccates any bacteria on the surface of the meat for safety.

After the meat has sat refrigerated for at least an hour, remove it from the salt, rinse it, and dry it. Using your sharpest knife (and again ensuring that your knife and cutting board have been sanitized before you start), slice the meat into tiny cubes.

Now it comes time to season, dress, and garnish the meat. I used a bit of salt (yeah, even after salting, I wanted more salt), freshly ground pepper, finely minced shallot, and the yolk of a very fresh organic and reputably-sourced egg. Fresh parsley would have also been great, but I had none. Traditionally steak tartare is served with toast, which obviously isn’t paleo and plus I can’t eat gluten even if I want to, so I ate this alongside a pear. A bit of pear after a few bites of the tartare really cut the richness, and was a perfect counterpoint (although not an option if you are keeping strictly low carb).

This was one of the most delicious things I’ve made myself recently, and I felt like I climbed a culinary mountain. I genuinely cannot wait to try this again!

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