Steak Tartare at Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I’ve been loving Jonathon Sawyer‘s Greenhouse Tavern in downtown Cleveland recently and after a joyous meal there not too long ago Donna asked to hang out and shoot.  She’ll be posting a gallery soon but the above is of one of my favorite dishes to eat, period. I can almost never help myself from ordering it when I see it on the menu. It’s also something that’s inexpensive and great to serve at home, and easy if you have a grinder (or a sharp knife—some of the best tartare I’ve had is roughly chopped beef).  Chef Brian Reilly (pictured above) made it for us the other day. Greenhouse grinds beef tenderloin to order with an old fashioned hand crank grinder, seasons it with salt and pepper and olive oil, puts a soft poached egg on top and includes some acidic, sweet-sour, and spicy garnishes, along with toast (for crunch) and fries (because who doesn’t love fries?!).

But I urge you to make it at home. A lot of folks are worried about bacteria, and with good reason. Poorly handled meat can make you sick. That’s why it’s important to buy whole muscles.  Choose the cheapest leanest cut you can find (if you have access to farm raised beef, even better), which is usually top round or eye of round.  Bacteria don’t exist on the interior of meat so you only need to deal the the exterior. First, wash your hands, then rinse the meat thoroughly under running water.  Then give it a thorough coating of salt—a uniform coating, can’t use too much—for an hour or so, refrigerated.  Then rinse it, grind or chop, season and serve. I’ve never, ever had a problem with bacteria from beef I’ve ground myself. Buy on 2 to 4 ounces (60 to 120 grams) per person.

The rest is a no brainer: taste it and add more salt if necessary, pepper, some olive oil.  Want more? Add shallot or a vinaigrette (when I had it in Paris the bistro mixed it hard in a bowl with egg yolk and a straightforward vinaigrette, served it with toast, no accompaniments).

Shape it into a disc and put it on a cutting board.  In my opinion, if steak tartare doesn’t have some egg with it, it’s just not right—it’s like showing up at a party with your fly unzipped.  Careless, embarrassing.  I like to put a raw egg yolk on top, a big yellow sun, which acts as a sauce after you make the first cut.  Or do a soft cooked whole egg like Greenhouse.  Serve some condiments on the board with it: toast, pickled chillis, red onion relish, pickled ramps, mushroom duxelles, whatever, or just some mustard and cornichons, or nothing, just ground beef, toast, egg yolk and minced shallot or red onion macerated in a little lemon juice.

The best food is the simplest food!


If you liked this post on the Greenhouse Tavern steak tartare, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved





45 Wonderful responses to “How to Make Steak Tartare”

  • Russ H

    Thanks Michael! This reminded me of the Steak Tartare my aunt would make. It was fantastic. When I was a kid I used to just like the idea I was eating raw meat. It was something I was not supposed to do, but here I could. As I got older I realized it was also darn good.

    I’ll be making some up tonight I think…and then sending a photo to my aunt!

  • devlyn

    I’ve been craving steak tartare for months now, and this certainly didn’t help. I’m thinking I’ll be taking out the grinder this weekend…

  • JenM

    My favorite food since I was a child. We always had this german-style a.k.a “hackepeter” Traditionally a raw pork dish, in the states it’s usually made with beef. mix in the egg and spread on dark rye bread, top with chopped white onion, salt and pepper. amazing.

  • Chuck shaw

    The attached clip of Julia Child on Letterman is priceless. Oh yea, I LOVE steak tartare. It is on darn near every menu in Europe.

  • David

    When I saw the title of the post, I was wondering if you were going to present a recipe from a restaurant in Lyon.

    • ruhlman

      Ha! I was thinking of mentioning that. Warning to Lyon travelers, avoid the tartare at the Hilton. had been sitting at room temp for hours if not days, no doubt a petrie dish of bacteria that ruined my chance to have lunch, on All Clad, at Paul Bocuse. Keep your meat cold till serving!

  • Diana

    I LOVE steak tartare. Thanks for the tips, I’ll definitely be trying this with some of our cow we bought!

  • Katie

    Ahhh I’ve been craving this all day and you posted this! I had one that was amazing by a French chef here in OKC. Had tenderloin, brandy, dijon, chopped cornichon and capers, and a bit of red onion with a splash of worcerstershire. SO GOOD

  • Chappy

    Further clarification: first the post says “buy whole” muscle then it says buy 2-4oz per person. If I just want to make this for me and my wife I’m guessing that this means that I buy a lot more than I need for tartare and then save the rest for some other use?

    • Chappy

      I guess I’m wondering what you mean by “whole”. Wouldn’t a whole top round be massive? Or do you mean top round steak? I guess my point is can a get a butcher to cut me something relatively small–say a half-steak–and still follow your instructions?

      • ruhlman

        sorry. chefspeak for “not ground or chopped or cut up.” it can be just a portion of the top round or half an eye of round.

  • Sarah

    Can you do this same preparation with the washing and salt to make beef carpaccio? Then just thinly slice instead of chopping or grinding.

  • DaleJ

    Bordain’s cookbook has a complex tartar. Much like Katie’s upthread. It’s pretty good, too.

  • William Hansen

    See, this is thinking like a chef. Meat. Salt, pepper, olive oil, few herbs, nothing else. Magnificent.

  • Peggy

    I definitely need to get on this soon! This looks absolutely delicious and you’re sooooo right – simple food is the best food!

  • Bob

    The steak tartare piedomontese at Tribeca’s Locanda Verde is worth the visit, too.

  • Carey

    I make this every year for New Year’s Eve. I buy a whole fillet and hand chop it — I prefer the texture of chopped to ground. Usually I add raw egg, lots of salt, pepper, parsley, and dijon. I serve with black bread, cornichons and chopped onion.

  • rockandroller

    I just can’t get there, raw meat does not appeal to me. Sorry, fellow gourmands. I’m not afraid of the bacteria, I just can’t stand the thought of squishy raw meat in my mouth. And no, I don’t like sushi either. I’m just not a raw food kind of person.

    What’s your take on the stemless wine glass like in the picture? They seem all the rage now but when you eat food and then drink from one, they get really messy quickly, I think.

  • sarabeth levine

    Delicious. I used to sneak little pinches of raw hamburger when my mom wasn’t looking and dip it in kosher salt. Little did I know how spot on I was. You awakened my old love for tartare.

    • allen

      sarabeth, hamburger is where raw meat becomes hazardous, it has to be from a fresh whole muscle to be safe, your still kicking so it’s not that big of a risque.

  • Martin

    First time I had it was in Belgium–on the menu it was “Filet Americain.” A rose is a rose… I’m a brandy and capers guy, too. And some where along the line I learned a spoon technique, rather than chopped or ground. Scrape the meat with the edge of a table spoon. It will separate the lean from the fat, and sort of mince the lean. Perfect for the Spratt family.

  • Maggie

    Funny how trends come and go. There was a time that Steak Tartare appeared on restaurant menus everywhere. Then it vanished. Mostly.

    Once (many years ago) I was making arrangements with a hotel manager and provided him with specific recipes for a number of hors d’oeuvres for a reception. Among them, beef tartare’ rolled’ into balls around a chunk of Roquefort and then rolled and coated in finely chopped fresh parsley.
    The night of the reception I didn’t see them on any of the tables nor on any of the trays passed by the waiters.

    Puzzled, I got the head waiter aside and asked, “Where?”
    “Oh, yes…” he took me to the staging area and pointed to trays with the cruddy, little brown ‘meatballs’ oozing molten cheese that THEY HAD BAKED!

    I couldn’t speak. I simply walked away.

    Oh, did I mention this happened in Scranton, Pa?

    ’nuff said.

    • Cissa

      When my husband I I were dating, over 30 years ago, we went to a trendy bistro after a play. We were both broke, so we shared a plate of (excellent) fries. But- next to us was a couple and the waiter explained the specials, including steak tartar… but neglected to inform them that this was raw. 🙂 So they ordered it. And got it. And then called the waiter back: “This meat is RAW!!!” He explained, very nicely, that yes, steak tartar is RAW; that’s rather a defining characteristic of the dish. So She said, “Well, take it back to the kitchen and COOK IT!!!!!” We had to really fight not to crack up… but the waiter did, and they were happy.

      This is one of my favorite dating anecdotes.

  • bob del Grosso

    I’m not on board with running tenderloin through a grinder unless it’s scrap meat. Sure it’s lean enough, but it’s too expensive, too tender and it does not have as much flavor as say, top round from a bull or an older steer.

  • Anne Haerle

    Thanks Michael for praising a classic dish that many people haven’t had the chance to try. When I was a restaurant cook, I made a version with hand-chopped beef, fried capers, and homemade Worcestershire sauce. Instead of the traditional raw egg yolk on top, I made a hard-boiled egg yolk mixture that I spherized with sodium alginate and calcium carbonate. It was fun combining old and new world techniques to give an old dish a new twist. The preparation from Greenhouse Tavern sounds delicious – keep sharing these amazing dishes with all of us!

  • brad

    Excellent post! I have to give this a try.

    Do you think marinading in a soy sauce/balsamic mixture instead of salting would have the same effect?

  • sandra in mauritius

    Love the pictures and recipe ideas. Simple is the best. I put a bit of sugar in it to tenderize and sweeten slightly, tiny bit of sesame oil is great too.

  • Carrie Oliver

    Thanks for solving my dinner conundrum. Personally I like to add a few capers to the tartare. With regard to the raw egg, from a food safety perspective it’s a bit ironic. Is there a way to prevent bacterial contamination for that? (ps I’ve eaten raw eggs via cookie batter & other platforms since a kid, but I am curious.)

  • Michael Massimino

    I am lucky to have access to farm raised beef so I’m all over this one. Steak tartare is my deathbed meal, love it with hard boiled egg mixed in..

  • Alexander Deighton

    Made this last night. Amazing.
    I forgot the no knead bread after I took the top off the dutch oven so to replace that charred lump I made a quick(er) batch of lean bread with fried sage and garlic from Ratio.
    It was an all Ruhlman dinner. And bloody good too.

  • Belina Garcia

    I grew up eating raw meat (family where cattle people) but then had the best tartare at Carlos N’ Charlie’s in Tijuana (yes, sir!) Mmmm… Love it and make it with lots of spices, egg, worchestershire, capers, red onion, cornichons, pico de gallo, etc…. Amazing! But 4oz? Not for us, we want more……

  • commiskaze

    I love making tartar with the scraps off a tenderloin (you know the thin part people butterfly and call it a medallion then serve it to a customer you hate?) My ethics go against doing it, so more often then not its an amuse, or my pre rush snack! Definatly going to try heart in a few days! Thanks


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