The legend of Steak Tartare
In my latest quest searching for great beef dinner ideas I remembered something I have not eaten for quite a while. Lately having this new “let’s make some great food at home” obsession, I decided to make Steak Tartare. I know the recipe, and I know a good butcher so this really can’t go wrong. But while I’m at it, I thought, why not check out the story of those Tatars who came here to our part of the World from the great hills of Mongolia and brought along this delicatessen.
Digging deep into the origin of it was not my primary goal but its hard to keep your eyes off the Internet once you start reading about cool stuff. As it turns out, the story of Tartars (or Tatars as some would call them) having horse meat under their saddle and riding on it the whole day until it ferments so that they can eat it in the evening is just a legend. This is maybe a good thing. The mere thought of “cooking” this way is quite bizarre, and it’s not that this could have been the best way to “prepare” any kind of food anyway. They really have had meat under the saddle, that is true, but it was because they thought that this will heal the wounds on the horse they rode.
Anyway I like legends, and who am I to spoil the day, so I will stick to it. Tatars, horses, steak. It stuck. Let’s leave it here. Along with the real story of Santa Claus this will be our little secret. It would be nice to once in a while believe that not all great food is invented by French.
Connection between Charles Bronson and Raw Meat?
Once I sat at my laptop I wandered off the original search for some special Steak Tartar recipe (the original being known to me, I wanted to check for some variations), and found out that one of the greatest icons of Spaghetti Western movies, Charles Bronson, although born in USA was of Tatar origin. Actually his father was a Polish-Lithuanian immigrant of Tatar origin. That’s the kind of stuff I like finding out about people.
If you are old enough, or you just like Westerns, you might remember Bronson from one of the greatest Spaghetti Westerns of all time: Once Upon a Time in the West. An extraordinary, legendary movie in all aspects. One of them being the music composed by Ennio Morricone, the music which for example Metallica still uses at the beginning of their every concert (the movie’s main theme called “The Ecstacy of Gold” is used at the beginning of Metallica live shows from 1983).
And this is one of those movies that doesn’t have Clint Eastwood in it. You know the guy: he’s that other great Western movie icon – turned Dirty Harry – turned Hollywood director – and even though he is 80+ he still directs dramas of questionable quality but gets Oscars for them nevertheless.
Anyway, doesn’t really get tougher than Charles Bronson when it comes to Westerns, and doesn’t really gets more raw and tough regarding food than Steak Tartare. That’s why I decided to spice my Steak Tartare up with a Bronson flick. A robust food combined with some good old “When you hear a strange sound, drop to the ground.” I call this a great night, even though the Lady of the House might not totally agree. With the movie selection, I mean.
My Secret how to prepare Steak Tartare
Note: I hope its completely clear that I am not a cook, so these points below are just instructions. The good part is, you don’t have to follow the steps precisely. Get the main part done, and then do some experimenting yourself. Be brave. Be a real cowboy (or girl)!
- 350-400g of nicely chopped sirloin (more than enough for 4-5 people if its a starter)
- 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
- 1 Egg Yolk, 1 mid sized finely cut Onion and 1 finely cut Garlic
- Red paprika powder (gives a bit sour taste to it)
- Chilli paprika (if you want to make it spicier, and I would always prefer fresh over dried)
- Salt, Pepper, Mustard and Worcester Sauce (the latter I use only rarely, few drops of it)
- Parsley, Tomato, red and green paprika (for decoration, or as a side)
- Butter and Toast bread
Butter, cucumbers, parsley, tomato and the green paprika comes to the equation later so put them aside. If you are waiting for a party of people, put the onion and garlic aside too, you don’t want to ruin their night out. Everyone can add it on their own during dinner.
Cut everything else really finely, and mix it together in a bowl. Experiment a bit with chili, pepper, and mustard (and onion and garlic if you want to) until you get the taste you’re looking for. What works for me is if it’s spicy. A bit more chili, a bit more pepper. Use parsley to decorate the meat on your plate, cucumbers, tomatoes and paprika on the side. Visually great, tastes even better.
Serve it with on a plate with pickles, tomato rings, maybe some paprika and the inevitable butter on the side. Make toast bread, and make sure its always hot.
If you’re looking for some wine to go with it, I recommend Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Pinot Noir.
45 minutes, including the occasional sip of the Shiraz
You like it? You hate it? Tell me what you think in the comment below!