Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Carole Travis-Henikoff's steak tartare

Posted By on 06.11.08 at 10:43 PM

This week in Omnivorous I wrote about Carole Travis-Henikoff, a cookbook author, gastronomist, and anthropologist who's just published an entertaining social history of cannibalism called Dinner With a Cannibal. She grew up in her father's Los Angeles Scandinavian restaurant,  Karl Andersen's Chatam, which in its day catered to a regular parade of Hollywood swells. Her prepublication party--an abstracted anthropophagite feast (the photo is by partygoer Bill Richert)--didn't include her dad's recipe for steak tartare, but given her point that we all have "cannibals in our closets," I think it might come in handy if the global food crisis continues to worsen. It's in her cookbook Star Food Revisited, and this is a very slight adaptation:

"The original steak tartare was scraped steak mixed with an egg yolk, chopped onions, chopped beets, capers, and seasonings," she writes. "Rarely is a steak trimmed and scraped for this wonderful dish anymore; instead, the meat is trimmed and ground. The taste is the same, but the consistency is different. . . . The original scraping (as opposed to grinding) of the steak was done to produce sinew-free meat. As the large knife was scraped across the meat, it would expose, but not gather, any sinews hidden in the flesh of the steak.

Per person:

2 slices pumpernickel or rye bread

6 ounces finely ground (or scraped) filet, New York strip, or sirloin, no fat or sinew

1 raw egg yolk

3 lettuce cups

2 T finely chopped onion

1 T capers

2 T finely chopped cooked beets

salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and other condiments of your choice 

Butter both slices of bread and put one in the lower center of a dinner plate. Cut the other piece of bread in half, corner to corner, forming two triangles. Put the long cut sides of the triangles up against either side of the bread on the plate. Form the meat into a round patty and place it on the center slice of bread. Make a small, rounded depression in the center of the meat patty and put the egg yolk in it. Place three small lettuce cups above the bread slices. Place the onions in one, the capers in the center cup, and the beets in the last one. Serve with condiments, aquavit, and beer.

    If you're fixing steak tartare for a party, it's best to mix it, as it's almost impossible for your guests to fix their own at a buffet or hors d'oeuvre table."

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