Tartare is classic, delicious, easy to make, highly flavorful. . . and, in these days of fear of
undercooked foods, increasingly unusual. Yet this is an impressive, easy-to-execute dish, and
the hardest part is finding beef you feel comfortable serving raw.
Chop the beef with two knives (that's traditional) or in the food processor, but do not mince it;
the pieces should be no smaller than 1/8 inch in any dimension.
Kerry used a Thai-inspired palate to flavor his tartare-ginger, shallots, and lime-but you could just as easily swap them out for the traditional seasonings (as in the variation) without changing the method or the watercress and horseradish cream accompaniments; see the sidebar for inspiration.
3 to 4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pound freshly cut beef tenderloin, chopped with 2 knives or in a food processor
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds (preferably black)
1/2 tablespoon roughly chopped peanuts
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 ounces watercress, thick stems removed, washed and dried
12 toast points or toasted bread slices, rubbed lightly with a cut garlic clove
1. Combine the horseradish and sour cream several hours in advance or the night before; put it and the plates you'll serve the tartare on in the fridge to chill.
2. Combine the beef, shallot, cilantro, olive oil, sesame oil, ginger, sesame seeds, peanuts, soy sauce, and Tabasco in a medium bowl. Toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture seems dry, add more sesame or olive oil as necessary.
3. Use a 3-inch ring mold or your hands to form neat portions of the tartare on the chilled plates, then surround the meat with horseradish cream, watercress, lime wedges, and toast.
Classic Steak Tartare: Combine the beef with 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped; 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce; Tabasco as above; 1 tablespoon sherry or other vinegar; 2 tablespoons chopped cornichons; 1/4 cup drained capers; salt and black pepper; 1 tablespoon mayonnaise; and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Serve as above, with or without the horseradish cream.