Raw beef, onions, and rye bread

Every Christmas this gets served by somebody I’m visiting for the holiday. It’s just a plate with some ground beef, sliced raw onions, and little pieces of rye bread.

I love it, but my girlfriend doesn’t. She doesn’t mind the fact that it’s raw, or the taste, she just hates the texture.

What I want to know is, what is this dish called? It’s probably either German or Polish, but both sides of my family do it. My grandmother can’t remember, and neither can my girlfriend’s mother. It’s driving me nuts.

Also, does anyone else in this country make this holiday treat? Or is it regional/ethnic?

ETA: Sometimes it’s not rye bread, maybe pumpernickel?

Beef tatar or tartare, depending. It seems to be Polish.

Steak tartare. I’ve seen it mostly in the Midwest.

I try and keep away from very rare meat, but when I am confronted with steak tartar, I will indulge. I prefer it when it is thinly sliced shavings off of a steak compared to ground.

There are a few restaurants here that serve it. The first one that comes to mind is German, so maybe it’s more than a Polish tradition. In any case, when prepared right it’s delicious.

Pork Tartar on the other hand…

You might as well serve me chicken sushi. I don’t do raw.

It’s certainly known and eaten in Germany (as “Tatar”) but a more typical dish is exactly the same thing made with pork. Then it’s called Mett.

Btw. I know what you mean but pumpernickel is made of rye, too.

As someone who indulges in a number of different Polish delicacies during the holidays, I can say that I’ve never had it, so I’d be leaning towards German. But I’m hardly an expert.

I was always under the impression that this was German. I have see a few history of the hamburger shows on the food channel that say Germans brought this to the states and before that ground beef was just not something that was seen in the states at all. But this is the food channel and not a great bastion of scholarly research so take that into account.

My Polish folks used to make it, but I haven’t seen them make it in awhile. I don’t associate it with any specific country, though, but I’ve seen it around Germany, Poland, Hungary, Russia, France, and the Netherlands.

Tartare (as far as I know) is always ground/chopped/minced. The sliced raw meat is served as carpaccio at Italian restaurants, although it may have other names I’m not aware of. I agree, carpaccio is generally more inviting than tartare, although I like both.

Wikipedia sez German:

Hm! Always wondered what a “cannibal sandwich” is, ever since I read Heinlein’s (non-SF) short story “Cliff and the Calories” (collected in Expanded Universe).

All that quote says is that that’s what the original “hamburger” was. It doesn’t mean steak tartare originated there, necessarily. According to most theories I’ve read, it did originate with the Tartars, and spread from their Eastern/Central European conquests.

There’s a Turkish dish like this I used to eat all the time, but I can’t remember what the restaurant I went to called it … ah, Wikipedia comes through, it’s Çiğ Köfte :

When I was growing up my father used to grind sirloin steaks and eat it with chopped onion on rye bread. I was the only other member of the family who would also eat it. He called it a cannibal sandwich. For what it’s worth, he was German (both his parents were born in Germany).

I can only assume that the ground/minced version of the steak tartare you people are eating is bought whole, and then chopped/ground up at home? Because while there isn’t a lot of risk associated with raw whole steak cuts, ground beef is another story entirely.

Of course you can do that but usually it is bought in prepared form. It’s not simply ground in a common meat grinder but in special cooled machines that achieve a finer texture without coagulation.

Rolls with ground pork (or “pig marmalade” as they affectionately call it) and onions are a reasonably common take-away snack.

We called it Gehacktesfleisch. My family is German, both sides, all the way back to the Old Country.

Plenty of onion, and it can’t be cheap hamburger. We had it on New Year’s Day. *Grossmutti *pushed it as a hangover cure.


IIRC, recipes call for buying a nice steak from a high-end butcher (you don’t want to use what’s sitting around in the Food Lion meat case), and laving it with brandy before slicing/grinding.

According to Hubby, the original beef tartar did originate with the Tartars. They put slabs of tough meat (probably horse) under their saddles to tenderize them while the were riding during the day. Whether they ate it uncooked or not is a matter of debate.

Hubby postulates that Tartar Sauce originated when they put mayonnaise and pickles under their saddles instead of meat.