It’s not often we wonder about how our delicious meals came to be, but some do deserve notice. Steak tartare history is one of the many food stories that do deserve our attention.
The History of Steak Tartare
Steak tartare’s history is partly a myth. Legend has it that the dish was first made of horsemeat; the story and the meal itself coming from Mongol horseback riders and warriors. It’s said that the Tartar horsemen would keep slices of horsemeat under their saddles, letting them tenderize throughout the day, then eat the raw meat for dinner.
However, a little bit of research shows that, while the riders did place raw meat beneath their saddles, it was not for consumption. According to “The Cambridge Medieval History” (1924), the meat was meant to heal the horses’ sores. By the end of the day, the meat would soak the sweat and, therefore, become inedible, anyway.
The first time raw chopped beef appeared on a restaurant menu was likely at the beginning of the 20th century, somewhere in France. At the time, it was called (and spelled) beefsteack à l’Américaine. It’s not clear why the dish was associated with America. It stayed on the menus and rose to popularity sometime after the Second World War.
How did it then get the now familiar tartare adjective? Some of it may have to do with Escoffier.
In one of his culinary guides, he listed beefsteack à la Tartare, and described it as beefsteack à l’Américaine, but served with tartare sauce on the side and without the hitherto, usual egg yolk on top.
As time went by, the steak tartare evolved, and eventually became what we all know today.
How to Make Steak Tartare
These ingredients will comfortably serve two people if you’ll be serving steak tartare as an appetizer. If, however, you want this dish to be the main course, double the quantities.
At George’s, we serve our beef tartare with a scotch egg, but you, of course, don’t need to.
– 150g of beef, filet mignon
– 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
– ¼ of finely chopped shallots
– 1 teaspoon of finely chopped capers
– 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
– Worcestershire sauce to taste, or ¼ of a teaspoon
– 1 egg yolk
– a pinch of salt
Make sure you bought your beef from a reputable butcher and that it’s of the highest quality. It’s also recommended you freeze the meat for about an hour before using it – that way, the number of microorganisms is reduced.
- First, take the egg yolk, the chopped capers and shallots, and put them all in a bowl. Then, add the olive oil, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, and mix it all well with a fork.
- Chop the beef into small pieces, add them to the bowl. Now, you can season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix all your ingredients well, then form the mixture into flattened mounds (or really any shape you fancy). Your steak tartare is now ready for serving.
If reading this made you hungry, or you just don’t want to waste time on making this dish, you can hop on over to George’s, and enjoy a delightful meal while you soak in the atmosphere we created, one of the old New York and celluloid film, when the great movie stars walked the streets.