How to Make Classic Steak Tartare

overview of steak tartare with arugula and crostini with a glass of red wine and a wine bottle to the left of the plate

Here's how to make classic steak tartare at home. And here's what you drink with it. 

by Erin Henderson

Years ago, when I was the sommelier at a private club in Toronto, I worked with a terrific Chef, who became a very dear friend.

Originally from England, Chef Andrew Prentice spent nearly 50 years in the industry. Classically trained, naturally, his resume included London's swish Savoy Hotel and cooking for royalty (he had hand-written letters of thanks from the Royal Family framed in his office.)

Andrew taught me how to make a proper Pimm's Cup, fry a French fry, and, assemble addictive steak tartare. All the important things in life.

The nice thing about it (most of the time), is that steak tartare is so highly personal that, other than the beef, you can add, remove, or adjust all other ingredients as you see fit.

I'm a big fan of briny capers, crunchy cornichon, and loads of Worcestershire sauce. Anchovies... meh, not so much. I realize, with the food world's current obsession of the little hairy fish, this is not the hippest thing to admit, but I is, who I is, so anchovies never make it into my version. Andrew, the hipster he is at heart, loves anchovies and eats them whole, straight from the tin. So in respect, I've nobly left them in this recipe because, sigh, so many people side with Andrew.

Below is the recipe, which really is more of an assemblage. If you've never made tartare before, feel free to follow the steps exactly as written – rest assured you will get spectacular results with this combination of flavours. But I've long said recipes should be more a guidline and less a Bible, so follow your own inspiration. 

side view of steak tartare with soft boiled egg oozing overtop

Classic Steak Tartare

Serves: 4 people as a meal, 8-10 as a snack
Chef level: Moderate 

Ingredients:
  • 4 anchovies, minced
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 oz. cognac, optional (but highly encouraged)
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • 16 oz tenderloin, minced with a sharp knife (as fine or coarse as you prefer)
  • 3 Tbsp cornichon, diced
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp shallot, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley and/or chives, optional
  • S&P to taste
  • 4 large egg yolks, left intact for topping, optional (but highly encouraged)
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, lightly mix lightly mix anchovies through Tabasco.
  2. In a separate bowl, gently combine, but do not overwork, beef through S&P.
  3. Pour anchovy mixture into the beef mixture and stir gently to combine.
  4. Shape into four patties and carefully top with whole yolks. Serve alongside frites for a true bistro experience, or, for a healthier, but far less fun option a tossed green salad.
Wine Pairing:

The classic Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape, is the way to go here.

On recommendations from others in the trade, I've tried it with brut rosé sparkling wine, which was fine, so if you like the imagery of sitting at a bistro bar gracefully supping on tartare and bubbly, you will be pleased with the match. 

I've also tried it with a rich and spicy white from the Languedoc, a blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Rousanne. The idea being that beef tenderloin is so lean, that a red wine, with its inherent tannic properties, overwhlems the flavourful, but delicate, tartare. I tried it and have to say I wasn't sold. Loved the wine, loved the tartare, didn't like them together. The rich flavours of the dish overwhelmed the white. 

Finally, I revisited the tried-and-true Beaujolais. A juicy and joyous sipper from the Juliénas cru, it absolutely sang with the tartare. Gamay is low in tannin, so did not bulldoze the beef, but higher in acidity so it wiped up the richness from the egg yolk and olive oil, and has loads of juicy red and black cherry fruit with subtle black pepper spice to compliment the earthy, tangy flavours of the tartare. This pairing is a classic for a reason, so why reinvent the wheel?

 

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