If you’ve never been to France or high-end restaurants before, chances are you have never heard of tartare; a unique, yet strange meal made from raw ground beef. While that may not sound appealing at first, reserve your judgment for later, after you learn more about this interesting food item with a long history. In this blog post, we answer the question, “is it safe to eat tartare?”
What is Steak Tartare Exactly?
Steak tartare, also known as beef tartare, is a meal made out of raw steak commonly seen on restaurant menus. It’s usually served with a raw egg yolk on top, along with toast or rye bread, and will have various other ingredients added to create a savory flavor, including:
There is a wide variety of meat that can be turned into tartare, which include raw fish, raw chicken, and even raw horse meat. However, beef tartare is traditionally made using raw ground steak and will often be served as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre, although it can also serve as the main dish. For some people, the thought of getting food poisoning and eating raw eggs is enough for them to doubt whether it’s safe to eat tartare, discouraging them from trying it.
History Of Steak Tartare
Contrary to popular belief, steak tartare actually originated from Tartary, an area of land that now belongs to modern-day Mongolia, rather than France. According to historians, Mongolian riders would mount their horses with pieces of horse and beef under their saddles to ensure they are tender at the end of the day. They would then grind or chop up the meat, and mix them with milk and eggs — eventually, this early tartare recipe would make its way across Europe, where many countries would embrace raw meat dishes.
Is it Safe to Eat Tartare?
Eating any kind of raw food is a risky business which is probably why people aren’t jumping at the chance to eat raw dishes. But the short answer to this question is that steak tartare is completely safe to consume, provided that it was handled by reliable butchers and prepared properly. Here are a few safety practices and basic hygienic rules to follow before you eat steak tartare:
- Always opt for high-quality beef when making tartare.
- Tell your local butcher that it will be consumed raw; this way, they’ll provide you with fresh meat.
- The most important thing is to keep your meat refrigerated when it’s not being assembled or served.
- Always use gloves during raw meat use and when you handle any kind of raw food.
It’s crucial that you use the highest quality beef that you can get your hands on so that it can be used the next day for more dishes. However, it’s just as important to keep your meat refrigerated at all times until it’s ready to be used, in which case it is safe to eat tartare.
Risks of Eating Tartare
Every holiday season, more and more people throughout the United States become sick after consuming cannibal sandwiches, a meal that features raw ground beef similar to tartare. Since 1986, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed eight outbreaks related to the consumption of “tiger meat,” or “beef tartare.” The reason for this is believed to be due to uncooked or undercooked meats that still have harmful bacteria that may increase the risk of food borne illness, which can only be killed by cooking ground beef at high temperatures.
If it’s traditional for the family to eat meat products during a holiday party, make sure to keep cooking until it reaches the proper internal temperature. Moreover, don’t leave it out at room temperature for over two hours — this will only expose it to bacteria such as e. Coli.
Want to Try Steak Tartare Today?
Holiday cooking shouldn’t be hard — even if you attempt to make steak tartare, there’s no need for a food safety specialist. While there are raw ingredients involved in the cooking process, all you need to do is take extra caution during your preparation to ensure that you have the best quality ground steak mixture. It’s also important to remember that those with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, and young children shouldn’t eat anything raw since their immune systems could be susceptible to illness.
If you’re not so confident with making your own classic steak tartare, it’s a good idea to opt for a fine dining experience at a good restaurant.
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