Monday, February 15, 2010

Vegetarians beware – there’s a bumpy road ahead - steak tartare


I know you’re thinking – what’s next. First we went to an ancient festival in Provence where the sheep run through the villages to the mountains to escape the heat of summer and then dined on a delicious leg of lamb. Next I presented a lovely rabbit dish and several of you could only think of the bunny in your garden and said, “oh no, not me.” I understand. I really do. I couldn’t eat the fat little rabbit we used to see in our garden that we nicknamed Edward, and called, “Run Edward run,” every time we let our Collie out the door. But the rabbit we had last time had no name and he was delicious.

But beware. The French love to eat all of the parts and some things can be easily confused. As an example, le ris de veau could easily be confused for rice, which is riz. Le ris de veau is sweetbreads, which we adore and ate several times while we were in Provence. It was prepared in a rich cream sauce and was to die for. But don’t worry, I’m not preparing sweetbreads today. However, if you are a vegetarian, please just enjoy these lovely old vintage cars, mostly from the thirties, as they drove around the ring road that circles Saint-Remy-de-Provence on their way to a car show in Beaucaire. We think the blue one below was a boattail Bugatti, but we’re not sure. If you can identify any of them, please let me know. Now, if you’re ready for a true meat lover’s treat, stay with me.
















The next dish is a French classic and one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites. Anthony, or Tony as he’s sometimes called, is the Travel Channel’s host of “No Reservations. I write, I eat, I travel and I’m hungry for more.” Tony will eat almost anything. The dish I’m about to prepare is from his Les Halles cookbook, which I have and love if you’re into classic French cuisine. Here’s a link to his recipe on The Foodinista. Les Halles is the kind of cookbook you can just sit and read for hours if you enjoy Tony’s matter of speaking, which is pretty blunt for some tastes.

This recipe is one of my husband Meakin’s specialties and it’s been in his family for years. Meakin loves to tell the story about his grandfather Papa sampling some of the hors d’oeurves his mother Bette had made before a cocktail party years ago. Papa found a tray of small party rye breads with a little mound of something he didn’t recognize with sliced French cornichon pickles on top. After he devoured several, he said, “Bette, these are wonderful.” “Dad, I thought you didn’t like raw meat.” “You know I don’t Bette.” “Well you must, because that’s steak tartare.”



Steak tartare is very finely chopped raw sirloin mixed with onions, capers and seasonings served on toast or party rye. It is imperative that you use the finest and freshest steak available since it’s eaten raw. Steak tartare is a bistro dish in France and is traditionally served with frites, French for fries, and a salad. Sometimes Meakin chops his own meat by hand as Bourdain does, but if you’ll tell the butcher that you plan to serve it raw and you know the store and the quality of meat they sell, the butcher can chop it for you. Be sure to take it home promptly, don’t let it get warm in the car, and eat it right away. You can also use a meat grinder, but never, and I repeat, never use the food processor. It turns the meat to mush. Serve it with fries (I made oven fries), a green salad, and pour a nice glass of red wine or a good cold beer. We like a good French Cote du Rhone. Select your guests carefully, because this is way too good to have someone throw it away.

Meakin’s Steak Tartare

Put one egg yolk in a bowl and add ½ teaspoon prepared horseradish, 2 anchovy filets, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 3 good shakes of Tabasco and mix well with a fork. Add ¾ of a pound of top quality ground sirloin, ½ of a white onion, chopped, 2 teaspoons drained small capers (chop if large), and a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped flat leaf parsley and mix well. Season the mixture with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and taste. Sometimes he adds a teaspoon of ketchup as he sees fit after he tastes it. Serve immediately on slices of a toasted French bread or little party ryes that have been lightly smeared with good sweet cold butter. Top with thin slices of French cornichons if you like. (We like).


Note: For some unknown reason he forgot the chopped parsley for the picture above. Don’t leave it out. It adds a fresh flavor in addition to color


Beaucaire

41 comments:

  1. I recognised that was St Remy from the very first photo, I know exactly where you were standing!
    I think I've only eaten steak tartare once in Figeac in the Lot region where they were very much into raw meat and bits that most people wouldn't eat (I ordered tripe by mistake and gave it to my husband). I have an excellent local butcher and will have to try this soon.

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  2. I'm realizing more and more that I need to save up for another trip to Provence. I didn't get to try steak tartare or le ris de veau. This steak tartare sounds delightful. I mst try this recipe!

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  3. My daughter and DSIL love steak tartare and Ris De Veau~

    I like your post:)I will send it to her!!

    WE will be going back to Provence,you make me want to stay in St-Rémy for a spell:)

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  4. Your photos are stunning as usual. I have yet to try steak tartare but would love to give it a go.

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  5. Love the photos of the cars, so vintage and classic looking. Very nice plating on the steak tartare. I've never had steak tartare, but I'd like to think I would try it if it was presented to me. It definitely looks pretty.

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  6. Sam, I loved seeing all the cars and reading the post. But I don't think I could eat raw meat because I really don't eat too much meat as it is. I'm afraid I'm one of those Southerners who mean it when they say, "Burn it!" ;-)

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

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  7. What a wonderful post, Sam. I loved the old cars but would be no help in identifying them. The tartatr looks delicious. Have a great day. Mary

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  8. I adore your posts and this goes right to the top of the list. We love steak tartare in our house, and Anthony would be a welcome dinner guest. I would seat him in between you and I!

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  9. Sam, I love all the vintage cars. Each has a distinct personality.

    I have never attempted Steak Tartare, but I do usually order when offered out at restaurants. I just might have to give your recipe a try. Many thanks for all the terrific photographs...

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  10. I have had this from coast to coast and I LOVE it - it is a special treat that we have around here about once a month - we love our steaks bloody so raw is even better - Meakins recipe is ok up until you get to the ketchup part - I would rather skip that.

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  11. I've never had steak tartare. It looks interesting, but never really appealed to me, though I know people who love it.

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  12. I cannot say that I have had it yet Sam...but I did have carpaccio which I suppose is an Italian version.

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  13. The steak tartare is awesome and I love your husband's version! The vintage cars are so neat!

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  14. I haven't had this before, but in Namibia they eat "gehaackte vliesje) which is a similar version!!!

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  15. Beautiful pictures, Sam!

    My husband loves steak tartaar but I don't!

    He will love this fine plate of food!

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  16. oh I am not brave enough but I bet its good

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  17. I love tartare and believe it is misunderstood by many people. The simplicity of Meakin's recipe may help ease the fears of the uninitiated. GREG

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  18. Your photos are wonderful, Sam. Love all the vintage cars. Although I don't know a thing about them I do enjoying seeing them. I haven't prepared steak tartare in years but do like it very much. Love your post.

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  19. Hmmmm, I ate raw hamburger as a youngin', does that count? I love Anthony Bourdain's show. I watch it all the time. He has eaten a lot of dishes I never heard of. That's why I like his show, yeah, right. haha

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  20. Gorgeous photos - it's been decades (how old am I!) sine I've been to Provence. I need to visit Steak Tartare in a restaurant - so many love it and I've never been brave enough.
    I will confess to taking a food dictionary to Toulouse to be absolutely sure of what I was ordering.

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  21. Oddly enough, I have never tried steak tartar. I can see the appeal, and I will definitely take the opportunity the next time I'm in France, unless I'm lucky enough to sample Meakin's recipe first!

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  22. Love the cars! Your trip sounds wonderful so far. I have never had steak tartare, but have always been curious about it. I might have to try this.

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  23. I've never eaten steak tartare-but your post makes me want too : )

    Love the old cars.

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  24. Steak tartare looks delicious! Love the pictures of the cars as well...thanks!

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  25. I love steak tartare ... and what beautiful old cars! The third looks lie a Model A Ford - my husband had one when we were in high school (1960 -- it was an antique -- I'm not THAT old.)

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  26. What a wonderful photographic trip you have just taken us on! Oh and how I love,love,love steak tartare! Thank you for sharing! Ciao, Roz

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  27. Oh, I hope you will someday make and post ris de veau - it sounds delicious (and I'm all for offal)! I have never actually had Steak Tartare before, having rarely seen it on menus. Meakin's recipe certainly reads easy - my only concern is that I'm not familiar with any local butcher well enough to purchase and prepare raw meat. Perhaps that will be the goals for this year: make the acquaintance of an honest-to-goodness butcher and to make/eat steak tartare!

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  28. I love Steak Tartare but husband and I now only eat the kind that is made with chunks of steak rather than ground. Once you eat this there is no going back! But thank heavens you gave us this recipe as I've been dying to try making it myself. With frites, bien sur!

    Must show these cars to my son!

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  29. I have nominated you for the Fabulous Blogger Award. Bravo and thank you for giving such a great blog. please check it at http://thefrencheye.blogspot.com and please pass it along.Merci.

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  30. I have never tried steak tartare. Will have to do it soon. Great post and loved the pictures.

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  31. When I ws in college I worked at a country club in Orange County, CA and once a year at one of the events they would serve steak tartare. I LOVED it but I've never tried to make it myself. Maybe now I will.

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  32. Just the mention of steak tartare makes my mouth water! Beautiful pictures, thank you! Great way to start my day ~LeslieMichele

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  33. When I first arrived in France I didn't speak a word of French as a result I ordered riz de veau for exactly the same reason you explained above. Quelle horror.

    So pleased you were awarded. i was saving the Sunshine Award for you -- which you will still receive --because you do add sunshine to all of our lives.

    Tishx

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  34. Sam,
    What lovely photos of the vintage cars. They are just great. I'm not much into eating raw meat, but it sounds like a good recipe.

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  35. Love your beautiful vintage cars!! And we all love steak tartare in our house...seeing yours make me think we haven't had it for a while and it is high time!
    Ronelle

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  36. On days like these I am so grateful i am not vegetarian ;-)

    Meakin definitely has my vote for steak tartare, I could eat this with a clear conscience!

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  37. This is a great post- fun to look at all the old cars! The steak tartare sounds great.

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  38. I have not had steak tartare in many years. This post made my mouth water.

    I also had quite a few negative reactions to my rabbit ragu recipe. As I told many, I could never eat something I had a personal relationship with! Buying the rabbit skinned, cut up and antonymous made all the difference.If I lived on a farm I might very well become a vegitarian.

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  39. Your Steak Tartare made me think about my youth when I lived in Paris. I did not like to cook and there was not much in the apartment so I ate Steak Tartare several times a week. But do I dare say which meat I liked to use? It is legal in France – I liked mine made with horsemeat – steak de cheval. I think it tastes extra good that way. This is why I don’t make it here, it just does not have this je ne sais quoi.

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  40. I love steak tartare, last fall I had it in Vichy with with the addition of blue cheese! It was wonderful. Give it a try.
    Love the classic car pics.
    Pam

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