Steak Tartare for a Birthday Dinner

January 5, 2010


Steak Tartare

And so the year ended with one final meaty fling in the form of a birthday meal for my boyfriend. One last colon-clogging protein punch before our bodies gave in to cravings for nothing but fish, vegetables and miso soup. I expect you could hear my arteries begging me to stop from wherever you were at the time. Or maybe I really wanted to do fish but it was the 29th of December and all the fishermen were at home toasting their toes by an open fire, spending time with their families and generally having a life rather than braving the stormy seas catching fishies for my convenience.

Anyway. The fluster of festivities left me utterly unprepared and before I knew it I found myself in front of the butcher wondering, ‘what would Simon do?’ Simon Hopkinson that is. In my hour of need I turned to my king of British cooking. The pages of his ‘Week In Week Out‘, are so indelibly etched into my memory, that as I cast my eyes over the pieces of meat in front of me, I could hear him sagely whisper, “page 148,  Helen – surely you remember?” At once a stunning vision materialised: red nuggets of beef glistening against the silvery blade of a cleaver.

I used 125g lean sirloin per person (more flavour than fillet), and spiked the fine dice with whatever choice of seasonings took my fancy; chopped capers, cornichons, shallot, parsley, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce and mustard are all strong contenders. An egg yolk is essential for me, adding silky richness. Traditionally the tartare  is heaped onto toasted rye (I didn’t have any) or alongside a pile of frites (didn’t fancy making them) but thinly sliced baguette did the job just fine.

There is a curious excitement about eating entirely raw meat; it feels a little bit naughty – risky, even. Soft nuggets of melty beef are roused to life by piquancy and heat; as much as you dare. The key is not to tip the balance too far. Restraint, as always, is key.

For the main course, fish was obviously out and there was no doubt in my mind that serving a vegetarian course to the boyfriend on his birthday would be nothing short of highly offensive. I roasted a couple of partridges and served them with Simon’s bread sauce and game crumbs; bread crumbs crisped in the partridge roasting juices. Followed by cheese with beetroot chutney and a dark chocolate fudge cake, you could say it was the perfect end to a seasonal binge, and the perfect pre-cursor to a detox. To be  honest though, I’ve never really been into all that dieting malarkey and anyway, I have a feeling it might offend Simon.

Steak Tartare

Simon advises using 125g of either fillet, lean sirloin or rump. I used sirloin in place of fillet as it has so much more flavour. Chill it well then remove any fat and dice very finely, before placing in a well chilled bowl. You can now add your choice of seasonings, or if you are serving it at a dinner party or the like, just set things out on the table and let people add their own. As I said, parsley, capers, cornichons, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, anchovies, shallots and black pepper are all worthy additions. An egg yolk on top is essential in my opinion. Clearly not a dish suitable for the pregnant or vulnerable.

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  • Avatar
    Reply gastrogeek January 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    This looks like such treat. “what would Simon Say?!” brilliant! Have you seen his new book, the vegetarian option? I’ve already earmarked loads of recipes from it.

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    Reply Peter January 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Helen, I appreciate your “no fear” attitude about trying new, exotic and sometimes creepy ingredients but life is more exciting this way and far more tastier!

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    Reply Patrick January 5, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    What a fantastic post and the whole meal sounds great.

    I bought Week In Week Out as soon as it came out a few years ago but have only ever skimmed it – this post plus recent mentions of it on Twitter will make me go through it in more detail.

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    Reply James January 6, 2010 at 2:37 am

    “Waiter waiter there seems to be a problem with my steak….. it’s not cooked!”


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    Reply Gourmet Chick January 6, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Fantastic Helen – the good thing about making steak tartare yourself as well is that you are assured about the quality of the meat you are eating. Lots of brownie points for you in the girlfriend stakes/ steaks!

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    Reply Lizzie January 6, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I bought the Week In Week Out book on your recommendation and so far am loving a lot of it.

    Steak tartare is one of my favourite dishes, I’ve never made it at home myself though. I love that bowl!

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    Reply Margaret the boyfriend's Mum January 6, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Yumm, that sounds so delicious! I didn’t realise you mixed the meat with all those other ingredients, suddenly, it sounds so tempting! Has the boyfriend introduced you to Henderson’s Relish, a blackish liquid similar to Lee and Perrin’s but made in the city of his birth?

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    Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen January 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I have never done steak tartare – but it is certainly something I would like to try.

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    Reply The London Foodie January 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Fantastic Helen, you can make just about “anything” look so utterly delicious with your photography!

    Luiz @ The London Foodie
    p.s. I love steak tartare by the way….

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    Reply Helen January 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Gastrogeek – I know! What would he say?! He’s be bloody horrified that’s what. I can’t do it to him. That’s why I’m not dieting, obviously…

    Peter – Ha ha, thanks. Are you a fan of the tartare?

    Patrick – You must you must you must you must! Please let me know what you decide to make!

    James – Ahhh, raw beef…

    Gourmet Chick – Absolutely. It was good to be able to stuff my face in complete confidence.

    Lizzie – Yes! And very pleased to hear it I was too. God I adore that book. Although, I think you’ve got that impression loud and clear…

    Margaret – He has told me about it yes! He thought you could only get it up Norf though but I’ve just looked on the website – ‘available in all major supermarkets’ – I shall try it asap!

    Jenn – Jenn you must! I am sure you will love it. Do let me know what you think if you try it.

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    Reply Helen January 6, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Luiz – aww thanks. You are very kind to say so. I’m pretty sure not ‘anything’ but thanks anyway 😉

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    Reply Jonathan January 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Holy Shit. That top picture is one of the best I’ve ever seen on a food blog. Did you knowingly write “sagely” in relation to Simon Hopkinson’s “Week in, Week out” because the photo on the front cover, if memory serves me right, is of a veal chop covered in sage butter.

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    Reply ginandcrumpets January 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Your man is a lucky man. The write-up and pictures are mouthwatering. I’ve never had steak tartare (please don’t throw me out of the food bloggers club), but based on this I think 2010 had better be the year that changes.

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    Reply shayma January 8, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    helen, you really do write so beautifully. i love steak tartare immensely, rarely does one see a blogpost about it. and photo#1 is so gorgeous. did you take that at night? how do you take such gorgeous photos at night? mine come out horrid! happy new year and best wishes, shayma

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    Reply Helen January 10, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Jonathan – Wow!! Thanks! That is a huge compliment coming from someone who takes such luscious pics. Your memory does indeed serve you correctly about the front cover but that’s is not why I said it. Just a happy little accident!

    Gin and Crumpets – Yeah, he is 😉 You shall remain firmly in the food bloggers club on the condition that you get out there and find some tartare sharpish!

    Shayma – Thank you! I took the photo at night yes. I do have a light which I use if there is no natural daylight. It’s not the best light in the world though unfortunately. I really want a new one to be honest. A very happy new year to you too!

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    Reply Wen January 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Your man’s a lucky one. Gawd this looks fantastic. Love the first photo. I’ll need to try this at home sometime

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    Reply Dan (Essex Eating) January 14, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Week in, Week out was on my xmas list (On your recommendation Helen) – but Santa didn’t frigging deliver!!

    Steak Tartare – I’ve only ever had it a couple of times, and the first I was too young and stupid to appreciate just how bloody nice it is (Urgh….raw meat?!!)

    Once again, lovely photos – and I feel inspired to have a go at this for some special occasion, sooner rather than later!!

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    Reply Jeanne @ Cooksister! January 15, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    You are right – what is it about eating raw meat that makes it seem that little bit naughty?? This looks wonderful – and I love the blue glaze on your bowl! All the best for 2010 🙂

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