The Saturday Paper
verb: mince; 3rd person present: minces; past tense: minced; past participle: minced; gerund or present participle: mincing 2. walk with short quick steps in an affectedly dainty manner.
It seems to me that the Oxford English Dictionary definition is particularly apt for these two recipes. Mince has a bit of a poor reputation, yet it can form some of the luminaries of the culinary repertoire. Here, we substitute the flavourings you find in steak tartare, a classic dainty dish that can indeed step off a menu in a particularly dainty manner, into a burger patty, a stalwart of the gaudily painted fish-and-chip shop menu, and latterly a darling of the food truck and hipster scene.
Both dishes also use up meat that is a little superfluous to other uses. In the case of tartare, it is best made with fillet steak. When cleaning whole beef fillets down into portions in a restaurant, there is quite a bit of “waste” product. When paying a huge price for a premium cut of meat, there can be no waste, so the offcuts can be hand minced and served as tartare.
Mince for burgers falls into a slightly different category. For every two eye fillets, porterhouses and scotch fillets on a beef carcass, there are hundreds of kilograms of other meat. A lot of this can become mince and is completely at the other end of the scale from the meticulously collected and handminced fillet scraps that form the tartare.
Yet the classic flavourings work just as well in each dish. By adding them to the beef in a burger, the ordinary becomes a savoury and slightly sophisticated morsel. For burgers, I like to use a slightly fattier mince. For the tartare I use the tail of the eye fillet and parts of the head of the fillet, but you can treat yourself by just buying a fillet steak.