Monday, 25 August 2008

Tartare au Maison (Tartare at Home)

So back to the subject of steak tartare. After thinking so much about it for my previous post, the risk of disappointment from yet another mediocre brasserie version was even greater. So when I noticed that one of the better local butchers sold a special tartare cut—composed, presumably, of small off-cuts of lean, tender beef—and that the supermarket down the road stocked Worcestershire sauce and Heinz ketchup, I convinced my somewhat sceptical eating partner that we should use this recipe to make our own.

I had sharpened up my knife to be ready for dicing, but the butcher surprised me by very coarsely grinding the meat. Back in the apartment, we mixed up Dijon, ketchup and Worcestershire, tossed it with the meat, chopped-up capers and a bit of parsley, and placed a fresh egg on top. The most time-consuming part was soaking the salt-packed capers, the most difficult getting the egg yolk to sit neatly on the beef patty.

It might be worth experimenting with the proportions in the sauce, or perhaps substituting in a bit of grated horseradish. And I’m not totally convinced that the parsley added much. But from the bloody, iodine-laced smell of the very fresh meat, to the contrast of soft flesh with piquant heat, it was just as elemental—and, quite frankly, sexy—as a good tartare should be.

I used to associate tartare primarily with decadent, dressed-up late suppers, but I now think that it may, particularly with an equally spicy Bloody Mary, be the perfect Sunday brunch-cum-lunch. Scrambled eggs and mimosas suddenly seem very prissy.

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