November 9, 2018 — Dinner Party

Steak Haché, Sauce au Poivre et Frites

  • 1 hour
  • 4 PEOPLE
  • easy

Leo and his partner took Mr and Mrs WDC to Brasserie Zédel. As so many people have commented, the highlight is the steak haché. Here's my version.

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What you need

800g minced beef at least 15% fat

2 tins of beef consomme

125ml white wine

2 large shallots – chopped

1/2 carrot – grated

2 sticks celery – grated

4 cloves of garlic – chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

1 tsp plain flour

125 single cream/creme fraiche

4 tsp green peppercorns in brine – drained

Chopped fresh parsley

To serve – chips!


Dad's Recipe Tales

Nothing quite prepares you for Brasserie Zédel. The unassuming street-level café is recognisably brasserie-like. It has a smart tiled floor, large panes of glass, dark round tables serviced by waiters in de rigueur waiter attire. There are clusters of small framed photos, enamel signs and Art Deco posters. Is this Brasserie Zédel? Not quite: it’s a teaser… just window dressing. To find the real Zédel, you must join the steady stream of customers plying the highly decorated gangways, traverse past more framed ephemera, strut down several flights of stairs (a dazzling display of gaudy carpet patterns, shiny metal and runway lights), round and round and further down until you’re cast out into a theatrical foyer, the pivotal heart of the Zédel emporium. But which way to go? Like a fairground attraction there optional experiences. The doors to the right lead to Live at Zédel and the Crazy Croqs cabaret venue, the heavy doors beyond lead to the discrete Bar Américain, and through the far set of open doors is the grand and unbelievably spacious food hall: the Brasserie Zédel, buzzing with hundreds of happy diners. We wait only a moment before being shown to our table. It’s an impressive start.

Zédel’s has ‘nailed’ its concept. It’s a restaurant inspired by the grandeur and splendour of the Belle Époque, offering a discerning ‘bourgeois’ dining experience in luxurious Art Deco surroundings, complete with an authentic brasserie menu. But here’s the rub – all this comes with reasonable prices AND some prices so low they’ll make you wince with disbelief. What’s the catch? Volume. Zédel need thousands of covers to make money. It’s a bold ambition – but one that seems to be working.

The scale and opulence of the interior architecture is staggering; all gilded marble, glass and mirrors. We gawp at our surrounding with bewilderment and wonder if we’ve been transported to a Parisian gastro-palace, or perhaps a 1930’s luxury liner. Even more perplexing is knowing we are deep underground, but sitting under impossibly high ceilings, with light behind windows so convincingly daylight. The fabrics, graphics and furniture are exaggerated for stylish effect, yet restrained enough to contribute to the sophistication. (Our table is smartly dressed in linen just the right shade of pink; somewhere between salmon and light rose.)

We did not explore the full reaches of the menu, sticking mainly with the excellent value set-lunch. Many people have commented that the highlight of Zédel’s menu is the steak haché. But for me the star of the show is the bread. It is so good I wonder if the whole operation might flounder if their bread was downgraded. It’s a firm and open-textured, crusty sourdough, beautifully moist with just a hint of chewiness. It’s even better with the butter supplied in neat little pots. We had several basketfuls. Apart from the bread the rest of the food was delicious and enjoyable. The service was attentive and personal.

The clever sleight of hand here is that Zédel’s generates its own goodwill. It’s an enjoyable, happy place to be. Cynics might criticise the pack-them-in, pack-them-out business model, but this actually works in the Zédel’s favour – it democratises the experience. High spenders sit next to young families, couples celebrating over champagne are quite comfortable sitting next to tourists. I can’t imagine anybody who would not want to come here for any kind of occasion. Zédel knows its audience well: anybody and everybody.

Long may Zédel succeed, it’s a wonderful environment to eat with family and friends.

How Dad Cooked It

Steak haché is a posh hamburger. Many recipes call for specially minced types of beef, I’ve heard others say that it should be chopped coarsely and losely packed. But I can’t find any references to steak haché in my French cookery books – it’s seems that steak haché may be a product of the brasserie, where beef can be served with a sophisticated sauce at a reasonable price. Certainly, I remember my parents making hamburgers (without buns) served with gravy and mashed potatoes.

The one observation worth noting and paying extra attention to is the fat content of your beef. Get ordinary minced beef of the highest quality breed and rearing, but make sure it has enough fat. Our supermarkets believe we either abhor or disapprove of too much fat. So it is rare to find more than 15% fat in beef – but seek it out – and use a higher proportion if you can find it. The fat is there not just for flavour but to keep the meat moist and tender. Too little fat and it won’t matter how much sauce you pour over your steak, it will be dry and tough. Brasserie Zédel in London are famous for their steak haché, but like all other purveyors of cooked burgers in the UK, they will not serve it rarer than medium rare, which effectively means medium as they want to be safe. You should also cook your steak medium rare – but make sure it really is on the rare side of medium.

  1. Make the sauce. Fry the shallots, carrot, celery and garlic in one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of vegetable oil on a medium heat for 15 minutes until soft. Add the flour and fry for a minute, add the wine and let it boil for a couple of minutes, then add the consomme. Add the thyme and tarragon and bring back to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or more until reduced by half. Strain well, extracting all liquid from the vegetables. Add the peppercorns and simmer gently for 10 minutes, add the cream and taste for seasoning.
  2. Make the chips. You have to have chips – you know how to make them…
  3. Make the steaks. Divide the mince into four and massage and mold in your hands – add no other ingredients! Form fat discus-shapped patties and fry on medium high heat in a pan with a little oil. Make sure the outside of the steak is well browned but that the interior is medium rare. After browning you may want to turn the temperature down and cook for a longer period at a lower heat. Take the steaks off the heat when they are rare (not raw) and allow them to rest for five minutes – the residual heat will get the right doneness at the end of resting. Government standards say to be safe cook to 70° C for two minutes – which will be pink. If you do not have a probe, check with a knife and ensure that the meat is cooked, pink and not raw.
  4. Serve. Drain the steaks, place on a plate and pour over sauce, garnish the steak with chopped parsley and serve with chips.


Ty some of Dad’s other steak recipes: Côte De Boeuf with Béarnaise and ChipsBarbecued Flank SteakBarbecued Lemongrass Beef Banh Mi Sandwich or Teriyaki Onglet.

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