How are steaks cooked in Paris?

Jul 9th, 2007, 01:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,571
If you must have a beef fix away from home, look for a place that serves the prized Charolais beef. Much better than average - for France.
Dave_in_Paris is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 04:40 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,702
I don't think it is true to say that if you ask for a steak well done that it will be served medium rare. We have been with people who asked for well done and got well done - couldn't eat it because it was tough, but it was cooked as they asked for it.

THere are a number of reasons, which as far as i know relate to not being corn fed, not being hung the same way, and not being the same cut.

So, if you don't like your steak rare, don't order it.

Our problem is that as we look Anglo-Saxon, we sometimes get a waiter who assumes we eat Anglo-Saxon, and brings us what we consider steak (and omelettes) overdone. So my husband often makes a point of saying that although we have an 'accent Britannique' we eat French. (We do, in fact, have an accent Canadien, but no one here recognizes that, as they think all Canadians have Quebecois accents)
Carlux is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 05:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,498
Dave_in_Paris, I'd add beef from Salers to that list. Certainly the best we have had in France. (You can try it at l'Écume on blvd Henri IV.)

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,057
Ira wrote:

>>Hi G,

>at a conference lunch, beef was served....Most people at my table trimmed off the cooked bit and left the rest.<

Any French folks at your table? <<

No, they were at other tables and I did not think to look. That lunch table had a Pole who ate it all, a Dutch vegetarian and the rest were Americans and Canadians. I have to confess to being a little smug because I knew what was gong to be inside before I cut in and rather enjoyed watching the reactions of my fellow North Americans. I ate all of mine.

No Robjame it was not a culinary conference. I have learned not to expect great food when the kitchen has to plate hundreds of meals at a time.
Gavin is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 06:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,420
My experience is not that same as others and I've been eating steak in Paris restaurants for almost 20 years. I order it the way I want (medium, a point), and that is the way I get it. Perhaps I have been lucky, but I doubt if it's just luck for all those times. I have never gotten it "bloody", and it is not cooked less than I like.

I think the advice to order something well done when you do not want it that way is not good and you shouldn't do it. I would never do that, as you may well indeed get it welldone and tough and then what are you going to do when they've cooked somthing exactly the way you've requested but you don't want it? YOu can't send it back. Particularly because they will know you are an American (I'm guessing) and then may overcompensate. Lots of French restaurants who serve a lot of tourists have ideas about how you want something and overdo that thing (presuming because you are American you want a certain thing or way of cooking).

I think in institutional settings or conferences, etc, they may serve it a little more rare than I would like, but I've never been served anything but the way I've requested in a restaurant. For example, when I studied in Paris at a university, in the cafeteria there they served a lot of cheap food (of course), and the steak hache they served was less welldone than I would have liked (and I don't like meat well-done). I didn't know exactly what it was, either, which is why I didn't want it almost raw. They always overcooked the vegetables in that university cafeteria, also, which is although thing I think the French have a tendency to do.
Christina is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 08:02 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 6,282
I very much enjoy the steak at the 2 specialist steak restaurants, Le Relais de l'Entrecote on rue St- Benoit & Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecôte at Porte-Maillot. No choice, just a question as to how you want it done & what you want to drink. IMO perfect, tender steak, perfect pommes frites & v. tasty 'secret' sauce - and seconds. Always long queues of both French & foreigners.

We ask for it 'saignant' & it comes what I regard as rare, just as I'd expect.

I must say I'm surprised at some of the comments above - dare I suggest that the French have been raising beef cattle and cooking steak for longer than anyone in the US ?
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 2,505
American beef is tender due to the growth hormones. Anything that grows unnaturally fast will be flabby.

Also : tenderizers (such as papaïne) are forbidden in France. I wonder if they are allowed in the US ??
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6,047
The steak I've had in France has always been excellent - and it isn't limited to just sirloin - I've had top quality fillet often. Incidentally, sirloin is thought to have more flavour, so restaurants aren't serving it to rip you off - it's considered by many to be a better culinary experience.

As for serving it rare to medium rare because it's tough as old boots if cooked well done - ALL meat is tough as old boots if it's overcooked! The initial 'quality' has nothing to do with it. The only exception would be stew type dishes where meat is braised in liquid for hours - then a tough cut will become more tender.

Europeans just prefer their meat cooked more lightly - a steak the size of a dustbin lid, fried or grilled till it looks like shoe leather and topped with mountains of cheese, onions, mayo etc is our idea of food (and coronary!) hell!
RM67 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 10:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,144
>tenderizers (such as papaïne) are forbidden in France. I wonder if they are allowed in the US ??<

I wish that they weren't.

Go to the meat aisle at WalMart. Read the label: "Contains up to 15% of a solution".

Doesn't even say what the solution is!

ira is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 10:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,144
>a steak the size of a dustbin lid, fried or grilled till it looks like shoe leather and topped with mountains of cheese, onions, mayo etc ...<

Don't forget the BBQ sauce, cole slaw, pickles, and hamburger buns.

ira is offline  
Jul 9th, 2007, 08:05 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,285
To read above comments you'd think most Americans eat steak well done. Some do. As a former steakhouse waiter, I can tell you that most do not. The vast majority order rare and medium-rare. And, again, it isn't hormones that makes a tasty, tender steak. As with cheese, it's the diet of the animal, and the aging of the product. (And in the case of meat, the age of the animal.) You only need to try prime organic to know.

Alors, just another food fight: "You don't know how to cook!" "You don't know how to eat!" "My grandmere was sweeter than your grandmere!"
tomassocroccante is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 05:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,725
tomas - Ignoring the fact that you make your point before you decry the quality of the discussion, I will point you to a discussion by the Beef Safety Research Division which includes the practice of injecting beef for tenderizing reasons.
Isn't the point that we inject our animals at all for any reason?
There have been some discussions aas well linking early maturation of adolescents and height increases of North Americans with the consumption of hormone laced meat.
I believe the UK does not allow hormones etc in beef raising either. Anyone know?
robjame is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 05:36 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,725
Sorry - forgot the link
robjame is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 05:46 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144
Growth hormones are, in effect, illegal throughout Europe.

Or rather beef from animals that can't be proved to have been brought up without certain growth hormones can't be put on sale or moved around anywhere within the EU. In practice, this more or less bans their use in the EU neighbours, and obviously means beef contaminated by growth hormones can't be imported.

American beef, as far as I'm aware, isn't normally banned in Europe. Just contaminated American beef.

Although from the way it behaves you'd be forgiven for misunderstanding this, France has no right to ban practically any imports of anything.
flanneruk is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,144
>..There have been some discussions aas well linking early maturation of adolescents and height increases of North Americans with the consumption of hormone laced meat.<

Well, they might wish to discuss it, but it's more likely due to improved pre-natal care and vitamins.

OTOH, the increase in BMI over the last 50 years comes from overeating.

ira is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 07:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,458
The real difference in beef is grass-fed versus grain-fed. Almost all American beef is raised on a slurry of corn, soy, and beef tallow in feedlots. Yes, American cows are cannibals. Since cows are ungulates, they can't properly digest grains like corn, which leads to stomach pH too high to kill bacteria, such as e. coli, which thus necessitates massive doses of antibiotics, which have to be massively increased as the bacteria develop resistance.

Grass is what cows are meant to eat, and cows that eat grass, and are kept in even slightly sanitary conditions, have naturally low bacteria levels and don't need antibiotics. Argentine beef is famously grass-fed, as is much Euro beef. There is grass-fed beef in America, but the words "natural" or "organic" mean nothing except maybe no tallow.

Americans love the sweet taste that corn imparts. The tenderness of our beef comes from the rapid growth at the feedlot, where the cows are forced to overeat the slurry.

But grass-fed beef, once you get used to the taste, is a much richer, complex flavor. Also, real steak nuts know that the tenderest cuts of meat are the most flavorless. Tenderloin doesn't hardly taste like anything. It's worth a little chewing to get the goodness out.
fnarf999 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144

You may be able to answer a question I couldn't get anyone else on the US West Coast to ansswer recently.

Driving round, I kept on coming across restaurants offering "free range lamb" and even a county fair running a judging category for "free range sheep".

Now in my neck of the woods - as far as I can tell - the whole point of sheep is that, apart from trying to get them to give birth indoors so the poor farmer doesn't freeze, you keep them outside because it's a lot cheaper that way.

Are there really American herds that aren't free range? Or is it just a meaningless term?
flanneruk is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,725
While I agree with much that fnarf says, I beleieve that feeding beef cattle with animal products or by products has been illegal since mad cow outbreaks - at least the case in Canada.

flanner - excus my stupid question about UK beef = of course it is all the same with the EU
- as to lamb - it is common to finish them in the barn on a diet of corn to raise the weight and increase the fat content (at least here in Canaada)
robjame is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 132
If tenderness is due to growth hormones how do you explain "kobe" beef wich is reportedly hormone free.
Felschurch is offline  
Jul 10th, 2007, 08:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,458
The FDA ban on feeding cow to cows contains an exception for blood and fat products. Tallow is the usual fat, but not the only one. We're talking about an industrial product here; these ingredients arrive at the feedlots in tanker trucks.

Flanner, "free range" is another almost meaningless term. The most common free-range product is eggs and chicken, but if you're imagining birds pecking corn in a farmyard, think again. In order to be "free range", chickens need only to not be in cages, and they need to have "access" to the outside. In a typical operation, this means opening a six-inch square door on the side of a barn containing tens of thousands of chickens, six weeks into their lives. None will ever use that door.

For lambs and other mammals, it means they were raised on grass fields up to some point. Almost all animals are, though; it's the feedlot where the real action takes place. I think "free range" lamb can still be "finished" in a feedlot, but I'm not positive. Finishing is an intensive process of rapid-fire weight gain in often repulsive circumstances, but lambs by their nature are slaughtered very young.

I'm not saying that all "free range" products are a scam; there are many smaller ethical producers. The lamb you saw may well have been gamboling about in fields of clover all its life. The problem is, there's no way to accurately certify that anymore -- and the USDA's main mission is to keep it that way. They exist solely for the benefit of large food corporations.

I strongly recommend Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals for an eye-opening look at where our industrial food comes from.

"Kobe beef" is usually a misnomer; almost no Americans have ever tasted it, whatever the local steak house is promoting. Kobe beef comes from Kobe, which is a place in Japan, and it is illegal to import it into the United States. What you see here is "Kobe-style" beef, from the Wagyu cattle, a special breed, which is legal to raise here.
fnarf999 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:03 PM.