A few months ago, I met some friends at Brown's Restaurant in Maddox Street. Brown's is an established chain of East Coast style restaurants- you know the sort of place, red checked table cloths, open brick walls, French café chairs. The waiter asked me how I liked my steak cooked and I said 'rare'. Shaking his head, he told me that 'under company policy' they were not allowed to cook rare steaks. What utter lunacy is this? Are we not responsible for our own decisions? I've eaten plenty of rare (and with my own werewolf tendencies, I really do mean rare) steaks in my time, and not once, I repeat once, have I ever had any sort of stomach upset. And if the meat is of the highest quality and fresh too...
(Actually, on reflection, I might just possibly be telling a fib. A few years back, I had an excellent Steak Tartare at Le Procope in Paris. Later that evening, I tucked into a plate of marinated, raw herring at a dubious place up in Monmartre. A few hours later, I was violently sick. If I had to put a bet on it, I would point a long finger at the herring).
What is Steak Tartare? It's chopped up raw beef steak (or horse-meat), served with onions, capers, Worcestershire sauce and often, a raw egg. Supposedly invented by the Tartars, I suspect that Steak Tartare is a 20th century dish of no great antiquity. Luchow's, the Manhatten restaurant founded in 1882 by Guido August Lüchow, has a recipe for Steak Tartare in their cookbook, published in 1952.
Here's my way of making it. I stress that not only will you need the best cut of beef, but the freshest example you can find, too. Do not make Steak Tartare out of any old steak you've had lying around in the 'fridge. If you're going to mix in an egg, make sure, again, that the egg is very fresh.
In a small bowl, mash up some anchovies, capers and Dijon mustard. Add the minced beef steak, and fold in some chopped red onion, chopped flat leaf parsley, a dash of Tabasco, a dash of Worcestershire Sauce and a few chili flakes. A spoonful of olive oil goes well, too. If it's your thing, break in a small, fresh egg. Season with lots of salt and pepper, shape the Tartare into a round and serve it with chips in the French manner.