How to Make Perfect Steak Tartare at Home
Public service announcement: Steak tartare is delicious.
If you are a carnivore and love good, fresh flavors, this is something that is doable at home.
A lot of people I talked to while I was testing this post though were skeptical that it could be safely made at home. This was sort of baffling to me. In other words, many people are perfectly fine with someone they do not know (restaurant line cook) preparing raw meat for them to eat, but shudder at the idea of making it at home… when you can control everything.
But, let’s get this out of the way first and foremost: It can go very wrong. Don’t try this unless you’re willing to do it right. Don’t take shortcuts. As this very disgusting Buzzfeed roundup suggests, steak tartare can go very wrong at home.
But I disagree with that article that it should just be left to the professionals. At the end of the day, it’s humble
fair fare that anyone should be able to make. You don’t even need a pan or a stove, after all!
So, let’s dig in and figure this out so you can have the confidence to make tartare at home.
1) Start with a very good lean steak. Ask your butcher for a fresh steak and tell him you intend to eat it raw.
2) Rinse steak and dry it off well. Salt liberally on all sides. Cover and let sit in the fridge for an hour or two. Don’t let it sit for longer than a few hours or it will start to cure. Rinse the steak off and dry it again.
3) Trim off any large tendons or pieces of fat. If you start with a lean steak, you shouldn’t need to trim off much. Then portion out about 4 ounces. You can eyeball it.
4) Mince the steak finely (or to a texture you like). Take your time here.
5) Add the steak to a bowl and stir vigorously with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Taste a bit of it and adjust the seasoning to your liking. I like a little more vinegar and salt in mine.
6) Keep the mixture chilled until you’re ready to eat. Prepare your plate with toast, egg yolk (lightly poached if you want), pickled veg, capers, and minced shallot.
7) Press the tartare into a mold on the plate so it holds its shape and make a small well in the center. Slide in the egg yolk.
Perfect Steak Tartare
Quick Warning: If you’re pregnant or if you have a weakened immune system for some reason, you probably want to avoid eating raw meat. At a minimum, check with your doctor before diving in!
The Steak Part
Obviously people are concerned about safety when eating raw meat, but the first and easiest way to make sure your meat is safe to eat raw is to buy a fresh, whole piece of meat. Lean meat is best so you have less trimming to do later.
Tartare Meat Guide Point 1: Do not, under any circumstances, use ground beef unless you grind it yourself from a whole piece of meat!
Ground beef always needs to be cooked because it contains beef and trimmings from many different cows. In other words, it’s more dangerous. Also, it’s gross and has the wrong texture for tartare.
Tartare Meat Guide Point 2: Talk to your butcher! Tell them you are planning to eat the steak as a tartare and you want the freshest cut they have.
For my money, a nice grass fed sirloin steak is about as good as it gets for tartare. It’s a lean cut so you won’t have much to trim off and it’s really flavorful.
Remember that about 4 ounces is a really good portion of tartare so a steak this size will make 2-3 portions easily.
Salting the Steak
It’s important to buy whole pieces of meat because you don’t have to worry about bacteria on the inside of the steak. While you could trim off all the outer pieces and be totally safe, that’s a lot of work and you would lose a lot of beef in the process.
Here’s how to deal with any bacteria that might be on the exterior:
- Wash your hands and rinse the steak under cold water. Dry it off well.
- Salt the steak liberally on all sides. You want a nice even layer of salt. You could do more than I did below. I’m not sure that you can overdo it actually as long as you don’t leave it on too long. Salt is a natural bacteria killer.
3. Cover the steak and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour, but not longer than a few hours. You don’t want the steak to cure!
4. Rinse the steak a second time and dry it off well.
Your steak is now good to go and ready for tartare!
Making the Tartar
The first step here is to trim off any large tendons or pieces of fat. Assuming you buy a good lean cut of meat, there shouldn’t be much to trim.
Then you have a few options. You could grind this, but personally I like to dice it by hand with a sharp knife. You can get a very exact texture this way. I usually cube the beef as finely as I can and then run my knife through it a bunch of times to mince it up.
This was my finished minced tartare.
Seasoning the Tartare
Even the best beef will taste a bit bland at this point. It needs a lot of seasoning including some fat and salt and pepper.
Some recipes call for folding in capers and shallots and stuff, but I like to serve that stuff separately. What I do like to do is simply dress the tartare with a basic vinaigrette. I just use good olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. I start with about a tablespoon of oil and vinegar and big pinches of salt and pepper.
Most importantly, after you stir these in, taste it! Adjust the seasoning to your liking. It should be delicious at this point.
Tartare is very lean and it needs a big dose of fat to smooth it out. Enter the egg yolk. I don’t trust a tartare unless it comes with a nice egg yolk.
To be honest, you can just separate an egg yolk and plop it on top, but I like to take a small extra step and very quickly poach just the yolk. This makes a little balloon that’s easier to handle.
I separate the yolk and then dunk it in steaming water (gently) for 15 seconds. Done.
Plating the Steak Tartare
You can just pile the tartare up honestly (or serve it in a small bowl), but if you want to get fancy, use a cookie cutter as a mold!
Then pile the plate with minced shallot, capers, pickled veggies, and toasts.
Add the egg as the final touch, plus maybe an extra drizzle of olive oil and pinch of salt.
This is a classy dish, no doubt, but one that is completely doable at home. Buy good, fresh meat, treat it well, and enjoy.
Have questions or suggestions? Ask away in the comments!