Steak tartare is seriously one of my very favorite things. I definitely crave it. If it’s on the menu and I know and trust the place, I’m down. A few places where I have fallen in love with steak tartare? Woodberry Kitchen’s served with potato chips is genius. I also love it at Rec Pier Chop House and Petit Louis, both of those were served with super light, thin crostini. And it needs to be mentioned that Lobo’s Cheeseburger Tartare is insanely good.
For me, a scooping vehicle that is almost dainty is essential — a nice light crunch to counter the softness of the tartare. But the thing about steak tartare, it’s not always on the menu at my favorite places and that’s okay. Great, even. Because when it is YOU ORDER IT and it’s a total treat.
Thanks to my work in food, I am lucky to know a lot of chefs. So, yes, every once in a while these nice men and women get a random text from me with a question. Oh, geez, I’m sure they love it. (eye roll) But I ran into Ben Lefenfeld from La Cuchara a few months ago at a food event and peppered the poor guy with all my tartare questions. And bless his heart, he is the nicest human and in his quiet way, explained the most important points. The main thing is the protein, of course. Basically, you should buy the very best cut of beef you can afford. Some recipes call for tenderloin, some call for top round or eye round. On my first try I used top round (purchased at Whole Foods) because they were out of filet, which Ben suggested I try hand chopping. The top round was way less money than tenderloin, but turns out I didn’t love the flavor. I also would have preferred to have purchased the meat directly from one of my favorite local farmers, Liberty Delight (I usually buy at Waverly Market) or Grand View Farm, which you can buy online via their website. I love both of these farms. You can also get excellent meats at Eddie’s of Roland Park and John Brown Butchery.
So, on my first few tests, I used the top round and played around with a lot of different ingredients like pickles and capers, shallots vs. white onions vs. red onions, whole grain mustard vs dijon. Chopped hard boiled eggs? Add the egg into the mixture or add it on top when you serve it? And don’t get me started on the scoop. I tried potato chips, store bought crostini, pumpernickel bread, white bread. This is where it gets personal. You will have to see what you like best, or if you even want a something to scoop your tartare. Up to you.
Here’s how I love it. Again, adjust the amounts of things like capers or anchovy, but do not leave them out. Promise. Also, since you want to only eat this when it’s been freshly made, I only make a small amount. Even though I love this, I don’t usually want it to be my entire meal. (But no judgement if you double this and get busy.)
Fresh small, thin baguette
Fresh ground pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
1tsp yellow onion, minced
1 tsp Maille dijon mustard
1 tsp Maille whole grain mustard
1 tsp ketchup
1/4 tsp capers, chopped + splash of the juice
1 anchovy, minced
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt + pepper, to taste
5 oz filet mignon, any fat trimmed
unsalted butter, soft/room temp
1 egg yolk (topping)
Place steak in the freezer for about 30 minutes or until firm. This will make it easier to cut.
Also, place a glass or metal bowl in the freezer.
Thinly slice the baguette into 1/8″ slices (you can almost see through them)
Place slices on a dry baking sheet, brush one side lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with S+P.
Bake at 300 degrees for 8 minutes – keep a close eye on them. You want them lightly toasted.
Get your sharpest chef’s knife ready and take the steak and bowl out of the freezer. Wash your hands. Cut it into thin slices and then cut the slices lengthwise. Then (this is just my preference) roughly chop the slices. I don’t like mine uniformly diced, but you should do it how you’d like. Place the chopped steak into the chilled bowl as you go. If you are nervous (or are not a speedy chopper) place ice cubes in the chilled bowl to help keep things cold longer. Wash your hands again.
Combine the rest of your ingredients except the butter. Use a rubber spatula so you can really mush the anchovy and capers well. Mix it well. Taste it on one of your crostini (since you have already added salt and pepper to it when you toasted it.) Adjust your flavors as you wish. Stash the bowl of finished tartare in the fridge immediately.
When you are ready to eat, place your tartare in the middle of a plate. You can shape it into a mound or use the inside of biscuit cutter or however you’d like. Make an indentation in the center and add a fresh egg yolk. Add a small amount of freshly ground pepper if you’d like. Spread a little soft butter on the crostini and add a spoonful of steak tartare. Close your eyes. Eat.
I hope you enjoy this. I sure enjoyed the research!