Post #570 Steak Tartare Well Done

May 5, 2018 at 7:40 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #570 Steak Tartare Well Done

One evening this past week, Partner/Spouse and I were having dinner of grilled steak and salad.  It’s fast, easy, delicious, and one of our favorite go to meals when we’re running late.  I had thawed out a sirloin steak that was about a pound and a half, and about half an inch to three quarters thick.  I grilled it on a well heated cast iron stove top grill pan for four minutes on one side, then four minutes on the other.  I finished it off my grilling for an extra three minutes on the first side.  I figured this would get the steak nice and medium rare, the way we like it.

It didn’t.

When I cut the middle to see how well done it was, it was still raw and purple in the center.  A large part of it had not cooked.  So I put it back on the heat for five minutes, then pulled it off and covered it with foil for about seven minutes to rest.  At that point, it was perfectly cooked so I sliced it thin, salted it lightly, and we had salad with steak slices on top.  So yum!

But it got me to thinking about one of the funniest incidents that happened while I was traveling.  I’ve shared it in this blog before, but it bears repeating.

I was working in Paris installing computer systems and applications and training the end users on the whole process.  Since I was the database conversion specialist, I was there through the entire trip, while the application specialists came in and trained then left when their app was up and running well.  The team lead was there from start to finish where my job finished shortly after the final application data was converted and the app went live.  Because the team was fluid in members, it became the habit for anyone who was leaving to be able to choose the restaurant for the goodbye party.

One of those gatherings ended up as some restaurant that we’d all enjoyed in the past and consisted of about sever or eight of us sitting around the table.  The menu was in french, naturally, but my high school french stood the test and everyone was able to figure what they wanted.  The guy next to me asked me to order him a plate of steak tartare.

I was surprised so I asked him, “You know what that is right?  It’s raw meat.”

He looked puzzled but replied, “No, I saw a little girl eating it the other day at a restaurant.  It’s just a hamburger.”

I nodded.  “Yes, it’s a ground beef patty that hasn’t been cooked.”

“No, it’s a hamburger patty.  I saw it.”

The lady on the other side of him chimed in, “Listen to him.  He knows what he’s talking about.”

We discussed it largely for a few minutes with him insisting that he was going to order it, but get it well done.

Now, for those who don’t know, steak tartare, or any meat made in the tartare style, is simply chopped, minced, or ground with some spices added, and a raw egg cracked on top.  Sometimes a cool sauce made from the blood of the meat is added.  Other times, a cool sauce made from fresh vegetables is used.  The two most common forms of tartare are steak and tuna.  I’ve eaten it, but don’t really care too much for it.  I don’t mind my steak being rare, but I want it cooked.

So the waiter appears and we each order what we want.  I ordered potato gnocchi with “fromage quatre”, a four cheese sauce using white wine as its base.  I like gnocchi, a small potato dumpling in various sauces and it makes a filling, vegetarian style meal.  Someone ordered chicken chow mein, another asked for lasagna, someone had a burger,  some wanted an omelet, and someone else had a steak with fries.  It was a very eclectic mix until he got to the man sitting next to me.

“I’d like steak tartare, well done, please.”  He looked quite proud of himself for that order.

The waiter’s pencil stopped and he looked up.  “Well done?”

“Yes, please, steak tartare well done.”

I was biting the inside of my cheek to keep from smiling as I let the situation unfold.

The waiter, still clearly puzzled, looked at my friend and finally asked, “Do you mean no blood?”

As I explained, steak tartare sometimes comes with a cooled sauce made from the meat juices, but I didn’t explain that to my colleague.  I watched his face and could read the thoughts flitting through his brain.  Blood?  Oh, the meat juices that collect when you are eating a cooked steak.  So that would mean there would be some pink in the middle, and he wanted it well done.

“That’s right,” he said.  “No blood, not a speck of that anywhere.”

Me, being me, I turned that screw just a little tighter.  I leaned over and said, “You realize there’s a raw egg on top that, right?”

He looked up at the waiter and said, “Could you ask the chef to fry that egg for me?”

The waiter gave up all pretense of professionalism and replied, “I’ll check, sir.”

I know he was going back to laugh his ass off and share the story of the stupid Americans.  He returned fairly quickly, reporting the chef said he didn’t have the right pans to fry an egg.  I didn’t laugh, but it was close.  After all, someone at our table had ordered an omelet, after all.

So we all sat at the table talking about the work and the upcoming flights and other trips.  After several minutes, the waiter returned with our food and set the plates down.  He very purposely set the “steak tartare well done” down last.  Then he stepped back discreetly, knowing what was coming.

My friend looked at his plate holding a simple ground beef patty, uncooked, devoid of anything but some salt and pepper.

“What is this?” he asked in a flat voice.

“It’s steak tartare with no blood and no egg, ” I replied.  “Exactly what you ordered.”

“Why isn’t it cooked?”

Someone at the table replied, “Because steak tartare is raw, not cooked.  He tried to tell you but you wouldn’t listen.”

“They’ll take it back if you don’t want it,” I said.

“No, no, I’m gonna try this.”

I started eating my gnocchi which was delicious while watching him toy with his food.  He finally braved the inevitable and put a small piece in his mouth.  He immediately spit it out onto his plate with a loud splat.

“It’s cold!” he exclaimed.

I nodded.  “I know.  To warm it would be to cook it and it’s served raw.  At best, it’ll be served at room temperature, but not often since that could breed bacteria.”

He turned to the waiter who was standing by at the ready.  “I’m very sorry.  I can’t eat this.  I’ll be happy to pay for it, but can you bring me some of that?”  He pointed blindly at my dish.

Very quickly, the waiter brought back another heaping serving of potato gnocchi with four cheese sauce and set it down.  My colleague took a bite and set his fork down.

“Joe, what the hell am I eating now?”

I explained what it was.  He sighed and toyed with it for the rest of the meal.  We had a pleasant evening, left the waiter a big tip, and headed out.  As we exited, I took my colleague by the arm and guide him toward the nearest metro station.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“We’re going to the nearest KFC to get you something to eat.  Come on.”

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.