When the weather turns cooler, I, and I suspect many of you, start to turn towards heartier fare and nostalgic classics. And even though it’s been quite balmy in Toronto over the last few days, it’s still cool enough for a scarf (maybe not a jacket), and the bounty of squash overflowing in grocery store has me inspired to pull on a sweater, decant a big red and carve out a dinner of meat.
One of my favourite dishes in the world is steak tartar. I’ve often been lucky enough to work in places that makes spectacular versions, but feeling like I wanted to tackle it on my own, I called over my dear friend, Andrew to show me how to whip up a version I could call my own. Or, at the very least, ours.
Andrew’s the Executive Chef at the Badminton & Racquet Club (that’s him on the right), and this year celebrates his 40th year in the hospitality industry. He’s done all kinds of marvelous things, including cooking for royalty, so I figured he could handle a little raw chuck at Chez Henderson.
He came over for cocktail hour, and after catching up over a Manhattan — well, two — we got down to work. However, if you’re at all tentative about your knife skills I recommend you skip the cocktails until after the slicing and dicing is complete.
As Andrew toiled away, I poured us a red bordeaux blend, that was delicious on its own and fabulous with the tartar. 2007 Chateau des Charmes “Equuleus” is 50% cabernet sauvignon, 25% merlot & 25% cabernet franc. It was plush and rich, but still refined with flavours of ripe blackberry, herbs and floral notes. Because of all the strong flavours going on in steak tartar — shallots, capers and cornichons, Worcestershire etc., I though the heavy component of cab franc, a red that’s known for it’s savoury and herbacious notes, made the match.
It was a delightfully indulgent evening filled with too much food, never enough wine, and entertaining conversation. I hope to do it again soon, and for your own attempts to create a bistro at home, here is the recipe for steak tartar a la Erin et Andrew. Bon Appetit.
This is a classic steak tartar recipe, that is absolutely delicious. If you’ve never made tartar before, and really feel more secure to follow the recipe exactly as written, rest assured you will get spectacular results with this combination of flavours. However, the nice thing about steak tartar is that it’s 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 briney capers & cornichons, & Andrew can eat anchovies straight from the jar, so we went a bit heavy on them. Please remember to add ingredients gradually, taste as you go, and add more of this and that if you think it’s needed.
To serve 4 people as a meal, 8-10 as a snack
4 anchovies, minced
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 oz. cognac, optional
1/4 cup chopped parsley or chives, optional
lightly mix in a large bowl
1 1/4 lb tenderloin, minced with a sharp knife (as fine or coarse as you prefer)
2 Tbl diced cornichons
4 Tbl capers
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbl diced shallot
2 Tbl Dijon mustard
Tabasco sauce, to taste
S&P to taste
Add to anchovy mix in bowl and stir gently to combine
Spread on crostini & serve alongside frites for a true bistro experience, or tossed green salad, for a healthier, but far less fun, option.