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Looks good, but not quite an Américain

Looks good, but not quite an Américain

Many of you (OK one of you) have been asking what exactly is the difference between a filet Américain and a steak tartar? Excellent question, where to begin? The debate is obviously a very contentious one with strong arguments and passions on both sides (of what I am not sure), but I think we can safely say the following: the filet Américain is a Belgian sub-genre of the more general category: steak tartar. Several features seem to distinguish the Américain from its continental counterparts. While a tartar, generally speaking, can be ground or cut with a knife (my Beau Père, aka Le Bear, claims that a truly fine tartar is scrapped from the slab of meat with an ultra sharp blade, I have never seen this, not do I think I would want to, I imagine a kind of textureless mush, but then again I didn’t think I would be writing a blog dedicated to raw beef and mayonnaise so never say never), an Américain is (in my experience) always ground (haché), if it’s not ground I don’t think it qualifies as an Américain. Second, an Américain always (I think) should be mixed with Mayonnaise as opposed to the raw egg common in that country to the south of Belgium (I forget its name). More contentious is the issue of préparé or non. A tartar will often come deconstructed, so to speak, i.e. its component parts not yet mixed together – so actually more not-yet-constructed than deconstructed). I am going to go ahead and set out my stall in saying that if its called an Américain I think it should be déjà préparé, in other words let’s see the chef’s mixing skills in action, can she or he strike that fine balance between too few capers and too many (horrendous error), how much tabasco before it seems like the meat has something to hide? If I am paying €15 + for some raw beef I want to see some skill involved. To sum up, all Américains are versions of a tartar, but not all tartars are Américains, although that should be obvious. If you are Dutch and you are thinking, ‘isn’t Américain some kind of sandwich spread we make in the blender with pili-pili powder?’ please stop that. This definition is not set in stone, although I should look into that, so I welcome feedback – unless it’s Dutch and involves blenders, again, please stop that.

Dutch Style

Dutch Style, Dear God!