My Perfect Bifteck Haché

It wouldn’t be hard for you to guess the first meal I cooked for us upon our return from Oregon and countless meals of baked goods, berries, and hazelnuts, would it?  No.  A burger.  Except I’m calling it Bifteck Haché, a name I quite like, thanks to a suggestion from Fitz.  Indeed this was the perfect homecoming dish after a day that began by (1) Being rudely awakened to the sound of police helicopters for 2 hours; (2) the neighborhood cacophony of leaf blowers; (3) then what turned out to be a 2 hour trip to the post office to gather up our held mail, in which the elusive postal window man would periodically disappear and simply, smugly close his door to the line full of increasingly rageful customers, one of whom was yours truly. 

Steak haché, or chopped steak, is the posh hamburger of France. It owes everything to the quality and freshness of the meat. If you go to a good butcher’s shop in France they will mince and mould it in front of you so all you need to do is season and cook it like a steak.  If you go to a good butcher shop in the States, ask for what I’ve determined to be the perfect ratio:  1 lb hanger steak, 1/2 lb chuck steak, and 1/2 lb brisket.  This will make 2 generous biftecks.  Short rib meat is a good use in place of the hanger or brisket.

It is interesting to note that France health regulations preclude butchers from having minced meat at point of sale on the meat counter.  It must be made on demand, in order that the customer can see exactly what meat is put through the grinder. Burgers are never seen on butchery counters in France.  Let me assure you that as good as a preformed patty may be from your local butcher, when you grind the meat yourself it is even more awesomely tasty.

I’d like to share some photos from my favorite butcher shop that is less than 2 miles away from my front door.  As much as I rant on Los Angeles, we do have so many first rate resources now for great, clean, healthy and tasty meat, cheese, and everything else.  It’s almost overwhelming!

I eagerly awaited the opening of A Cut Above for nearly a year, permits and such causing delays, and have seen the shop from its spare beginnings grow into a full fledged shop that now offers sandwiches, salads and all sorts of other goodies like broth, tallow, and AMAZING sausages.  The all beef hot dogs are to die for!

Butcher shots (12 of 14)

 

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

Butcher shots (2 of 14)

Butcher shots (3 of 14)

Butcher shots (4 of 14)

Butcher shots (5 of 14)

Butcher shots (6 of 14)

Butcher shots (7 of 14)

 

Butcher shots (10 of 14)

Butcher shots (11 of 14)

Butcher shots (13 of 14)

Butcher shots (14 of 14)

So then, a haché is prime steak meat, minced once on a coarse grinding plate, then pressed into an oval shape and without adding any seasoning at all (unlike pre made burgers which are usually seasoned during grinding), for it is seasoned at the cooking stage, just like you would with a normal steak.  I use the KitchenAid meat grinder attachment, but, as above, only the course grinding plate.  With a normal “burger” I pass the meat through the course plate first, then the finer plate.  The haché, since it is only coarsely ground, will be a slightly looser and “meatier” patty, and is best served without a bun, and oftentimes with a compound butter such as Maitre d’ Butter, a wonderful mixture of butter, shallot, peppercorn, mustard, lemon juice and Worcester sauce.  I also add parsley and sometimes olives or cornichons to my butters.

Patties getting a great crust

Patties getting a great crust

I'm hungry for this all over again, and it's only morning

I’m hungry for this all over again, and it’s only morning

Recipe:

  • 1 lb. hanger steak
  • 1/2 lb. each chuck steak and brisket
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • compound butter of choice

Preparation:

  1. Slice your meat into chunks or strips about 2 inches long, with a thickness of 1/2 inch to 1 inch.  Pass meat through the course plate of a meat grinder.
  2. Shape into oval patties with a dimple in the center.  Generously season with salt and freshly ground pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp clarified butter or bacon fat (or you can use olive oil if you must!) in a cast iron skillet or non stick pan until nearly smoking, add patties and do not move for 2 minutes.  You may need a fan or a splatter guard in order to avoid an epic mess. Turn and let cook 2 minutes, then repeat turning until done to your likeness.
  4. Let sit a minute or two to let the juices settle and top with your compound butter, or as my husband likes, with French’s yellow mustard.  I like to serve with very plainly prepared potatoes.  Enjoy!

14 Comments on “My Perfect Bifteck Haché

  1. Lovely burger and I LOVE the name. Looks like a great butcher shop, and the cuts you chose for the burger are the tastiest. Love a shop that will grind to order.

    • Thanks Suzanne, it is the greatest. I’ve had a few of the sandwiches so far and they are so good!

  2. What were the police helicopters doing?/looking for? I think its great about the regulations in France. Those regulations aren’t in place and I always get them to grind fresh meat for us,.. now less because we have a grinder now! Your burger looks excellent and a big yes to truffle salt (which I was drooling over in your instagram) and freshly ground black pepper. xx

    • Oh, that’s very helpful, perhaps I should check with someone who actually LIVES in France or nearby, like you, before I go spouting knowledge!!!! I nearly died when my husband went to wipe all the “grease” off his burger and in so doing, there went the salt crust. Oy!!!!

  3. Wow. Great post. I didn’t know France had those regulations. It’s actually pretty awesome. What a beautiful burger and amazing flavors. You certainly eat well!

  4. Oh wow, that is a REAL burger! Here in Belgium, you get hamburger patties from the supermarket. I’m relatively sure those are made with fresh meat, and not the very greasy part, either. It’s strange how I tend not to think too much about food safety here because I FEEL safe. Maybe that’s very naive of me :p

    I don’t think I’ve ever cooked burgers this thick! How do you make sure they’re cooked properly without being burnt outside?

    • Thanks Sunny and for stopping by! I tend to like a pretty strong crust to my burgers and medium rare inside, which amounts to about 5 minutes per side total, but honestly I don’t usually make them that thick! It just looks better for photo purposes!

  5. I’ve used only brisket for ground beef, but never a mixture. A must try! Great post – I’m really jealous of your butcher shop.

    • I know I’m so lucky. And I can’t emphasize how much grinding the meat yourself makes a difference. More and more I’m grinding on the coarse blade only for a “looser” burger which makes it juicier and more tender! Thanks for stopping by and your kind comment!

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