I managed to get my hands on some really good beef the other day from my butcher – ex-dairy cow. There are a number of good reasons why I’d say that out of all the bespoke beef I’ve tried, this ranks as my favourite. Firstly, the flavour and fat marbling are excellent. Secondly, it’s not overly expensive for something with that kind of marbling and husbandry – wagyu for instance is a lot more pricey. Thirdly, it’s from a cow that has spent its life as a dairy cow. That means it’s not been reared just for beef – pumped with grain and finished on grass when the animal is relatively young. Instead, these cows actually work producing milk for as long as their yield is good and then, when most aged-heifers would fall by the wayside, forgotten about, these beauties are put out to pasture to enjoy their halcyon days in the sun, before being sent to the abattoir.
In a world very concerned with sustainability, it’s hard to think of a more viable beef stock than an ex-dairy cow. The meat, in this case, came from a Friesian cow, a staple of British dairy, and given its absolutely fabulous colour, texture and fat, I thought the very best way to do it justice was as simply as possible.
And when it comes to beef, there are few dishes as pure as Steak Tartare.
But don’t let all this specialist beef stop you if you can’t get your hands on it; any good fillet or sirloin, or lamb – even venison saddle works really well. Kudu and Springbok are also excellent choices. The main thing is the cut. Nice and lean.
This serves 4 generously, as a rather nice starter.
- 500g beef, lamb or other four-legged game. Lean cuts only – fillet, sirloin. Remember to keep it in the fridge until the last moment.
- 50g cornichons
- 50g capers
- 75g shallot
- Worcestershire sauce
- Black pepper
- White pepper
- Finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- Olive oil
- 4 egg yolks
- Cayenne pepper
First up, finely dice the cornichons, shallots and chop the parsley. Using the flat blade of the knife, crush the capers and then roughly chop these until fine. Set aside.
If you’ve got a hand mincer, remove the meat from the fridge and pass it through until you have a nice, fine mince. If you haven’t, dice with a sharp knife as small as you can get it, removing any big fatty pieces, gristle or trim, so you’re left with a lovely fine dice of lean meat.
Add a good 4 tablespoons of olive oil, extra virgin as long as it’s not too strong in flavour. Add the shallots, cornichons and capers and season with Worcestershire sauce, salt and ground black and white pepper. Lastly, fold in a few decent sprinkles of the finely chopped parsley. This is the last chance to check the seasoning, so make sure it’s right.
Set into rings on 4 plates, remembering to oil the inside of the rings so they slide off with ease when full.
Press gently with the back of a spoon into the meat, creating a little divot, and finish each with an egg yolk placed into it, (the best quality you can find- bio/organic is a must in my opinion). Add a small pinch of cayenne to set off the yolk.
Enjoy with some melba toast, good water biscuits or crackers and a lovely glass of Chablis!