Steak Tartare in the Classic French Way

Truth be told, my absolute favorite tartare concoction is wonderfully lean, red, fresh & chilled ahi tuna. A good tartare must be very lean. Instead of using fat for flavor, you’re using spice. I can’t recall exactly, but I don’t believe I’ve actually done steak (filet) since I lived in France.

But tonight I did, and it was inspired by this post by my friend Michael Miles at Nutrition and Physical Regeneration.

I used the traditional French method as outlined in the video (try not to laugh with how he pronounces French words, especially cornichon). Quality dijon mustard, cornichon pickles, capers, shallot, egg yolk, a drizzle of EVOO and salt & pepper. Click for the high res. I did this one with flash in order to make sure to get the texture.

Steak Tartare
Steak Tartare

Here’s a few clues to doing it right.

  1. Use half the mustard you think you might want, mix it all up, and add more to taste, mixing as you go.
  2. Do the same with the shallots. Cut up the most you think you might want (and what the recipe shows at the link, above), put in 2/3 and then try it out.
  3. DO NOT grind the meat. And do not use anything but lean filet, well trimmed of fat (the light marbling is fine & good). Grinding it makes dogfood tartare. Don’t be stupid and wasteful of a wonderful cut of meat. It takes more work, but have some respect. Slice, dice, chop and chop. It’ll be worth it and you’ll retain that "just so" texture.
  4. Tartare is best served chilled. Keep the meat in the fridge until just ready to cut (after you’ve done everything else), and when chopped & mixed, return it to the fridge until all else is done and you’re ready to plate & serve. Even 5-10 in the freezer is not a bad idea.

So there you have it. The chips are one potato, split between the wife & I. I got them started in the cast iron for only a couple of minutes, with a combo of coconut oil and tallow. Then onto a baking sheet at 350 for about 30, turning them at about the 20m point.

Well, Bea had never had steak tartare (tuna, yes) so to be on the safe side, I cooked her a grassfed burger shrouded in New Zealand grassfed sharp cheddar.

Burger with Grassfed Cheddar
Burger with Grassfed Cheddar

But bless her heart, she tried two bites, loved it, and is ready for round two. We’ve come a long way from the days when I met her and she ordered her meat medium well.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Craig on April 12, 2010 at 07:20

    I will be making tartare this week….wow!! Great website and content. I have been following your blog since September 09 when I began eating paleo. Needless to say eating Paleo has changed my life forever. I came across this link,

    this morning and was wondering if you ever heard of this guy before? This guy obviously drank the cool-aid getting his “Masters” and has some issues with Gary Taubes who not a “scientist”.

    • jon w on April 12, 2010 at 09:29

      interesting just the other day I made an attempt at lap – the lao version of tartare, minced raw beef with spices. “attempt” because it wasnt quite the same as I remember, but still delicious.

      although I dont like the guy’s tone, I have been having my doubts about the carbohydrate hypothesis. low carb is not the same as paleo, and elimination of wheat, sugar and vegetable oil seems for me to have the same benefit at maintaining low weight. the guy does mention the benefits of low carb diet for weight loss due to increased satiation from protein and fat, and mentions the myth that dietary fat causes heart disease… havent read it all but I wouldnt be surprised if there is room for improvement on Taubes.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 12, 2010 at 15:22

      Yea I saw that before, Craig. Made my eyes roll. I just don’t much care about that argument.

  2. Patrik on April 11, 2010 at 23:33

    Amazing. My mouth is watering.

  3. Elliot on April 12, 2010 at 10:02

    The first time I took my wife out to a nice restaurant (before we were married), I convinced her to order prime rib at Outback Steakhouse. She sent it back so the cook could ruin it by browning it until there was nothing pink.


    It’s taken me many years, but I am getting her to eat medium and occasionally medium-rare beef. I doubt she’ll ever eat anything rare.

    I joke with her that if the cow got a sunburn, that’s enough cooking for me.

  4. Michael on April 12, 2010 at 10:08

    Thanks Richard for the shout out. 🙂

    I concur that one of the keys to great steak tartar is the use of a knife. It is more work but definitely worth it. I myself use two knifes and on occasion even prefer to hand chop my beef for a premium home hamburger patty.

    Great pics and very nice presentation.

  5. Mallory on April 12, 2010 at 13:43

    i would be all over this recipe is i could afford grassfed beef…but for me, haha i take that cheeseburger in a flash!!!!!

  6. Ned Kock on April 12, 2010 at 14:59

    Nice sides – potato, like most natural carb.-rich foods, has a low glycemic load (even though it has a high glycemic index):

    And, you might have seen this from the CNN, which singles out refined carbs., and mentions the glycemic index:

    White bread, rice, and other carbs boost heart disease risk in women

    • Richard Nikoley on April 12, 2010 at 15:17

      Very interesting, Ned. As always. Yea, that’s one big change for me. Though white potatoes and their variants are fairly recent and contain some toxins I’m just not very afraid of them and I think they are an ideal way to get some carbs in the diet, if one feels fine doing so, and I do. Still, I rarely go over 100g in a day. A whole 10oz baked potato is about 60g, as I recall. No big deal, and especially in the way I do it which is to eat half at one meal and the other half the next.

      • James on April 13, 2010 at 08:41

        Just keep in mind, Richard, that when your blood-glucose level is optimal, there’s less than a teaspoon of glucose in all your blood. ie…it is rather easy to double your blood sugar.
        Don’t forget the insulin factor.
        Meals which cause an insulin surge will work to prevent you from expressing your lean/athlete genetic code.
        The glycemic load of potatoes are smaller compared to the grains, but compared to optimal blood-glucose levels, they’re still rather high. This is an example of playing the game of relativism (potato vs. grain in regards to GL) that gets people in a little bit of trouble.

        Discard the potatoes and replace with coconut-oil stir-fried zucchini and I’m in.

  7. monicauk on April 12, 2010 at 21:35

    Seems quite tasty and mouth watering.

  8. gallier2 on April 13, 2010 at 08:09

    Funny synchronicity, there was a show on french TV yesterday about the best tartare restaurant of Paris. Two things surprized me about that report, they didn’t use a knife but a special ice cooled grinder and the actual origin of steak tartare. It was an invention of Jules Verne for his Michel Strogoff book, in which he pretended the Tatars used to eat raw meat that way and then Parisian restaurants tried to reenact the practice from the book.

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