Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cheap Bastid's Steak Tartare on a Budget

It’s been a while since we’ve gone out to dinner (for all of 2009 I can count once and that was a free buffet at Valley Center Casino on my birthday in August). But, I dearly love my wife and have been wanting to do something special for her.

So I did a bit of research and decided to fix Steak Tartare on Saturday night. And, her favorite, shrimp cocktail. What a combination!

But, how would Cheap Bastid manage to do it? The goal is good food that’s inexpensive. Well, it’s possible.

Most of the recipes I checked call for either tenderloin or sirloin. Well, tenderloin can cost anywhere from $6 to $12 a pound depending on the store and on the meat grade. And sirloin can cost anywhere from $2 to $5 depending on the store and grade. So, I knew that I was going to use sirloin and it was on special at my grocer last week for $1.97 a pound and that grocer will grind it for free.

Another thing that pushes the cost up is that most recipes call for either capers, anchovy fillets or both. But, Cheap Bastid knows that these kind of narrow-niche ingredients are both a bit pricey and would take a long time to use up. I mean, if it were something I use regularly, I wouldn’t have a problem buying it. That’s $5 saved right there.

A lot of recipes called for cognac. No. Same rationale as for capers and anchovies. Now, if you want to make your own and use these ingredients, be my guest. Yeah, it would probably taste better or richer with these but I decided to take a pass.

Cheap Bastid’s Steak Tartare for 2
1 lb sirloin steak—ground
½ cup diced red or Bermuda onion
1 diced fresh jalapeno pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
Basically, take all that and mix it together real good with your hands or with a spoon. Form it into a ball and put it in the fridge for about an hour before serving.

Some people like to have a bit of crumbled hard boiled egg to put on top or more onion. Use a table knife or fork to put a bite of the mixture on top of saltines or Ritz or other cracker. Or you can take some thin slices of French bread and a bit of oil on top and toast it lightly in the oven. What I did was to take some flat bread and put a light coat of oil on it and then popped it into a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Then I cut each into 8 wedges. Using either French bread or flat bread makes it just a bit “fancier”.

Carolyn really didn’t care for the raw egg too much so the next time I make it, I won’t use egg. Maybe a tablespoon or so of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) to bind it and flavor it a bit.

To finish the dinner, I made a platter of shrimp cocktail. No cooking at all on this. I buy it “IQF” (individually quick frozen) at the store when it’s on special (31-40 count buy one get one free for $8). And I’ll use it up over time the Cheap Bastid way. Carolyn loves shrimp cocktail (so do I) and she deserves a treat. But I also use it for stir-frying and shrimp salad and shrimp and grits and shrimp scampi.

So did the Steak Tartare meet the Cheap Bastid test? Yep. I spent about $2 on the meat (oh, and by the way there was enough left for a light lunch and it tasted even better the 2nd day when the flavors had a chance to marry in the meat). The egg, onion and jalapeno cost maybe $.50 and the flat bread about a quarter. Total for Steak Tartare: $2.75. In a restaurant, Steak Tartare made from sirloin would cost about 10 times that for 2 people.

So that’s the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful.

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