Top French Chef’s Recipe for the Perfect Steak Haché at Home

Steak haché is not a burger, the purists will tell you. Any resemblance between minced beef molded into a patty in France and that American favorite served in a bun is entirely coincidental. Discuss.

As debates go, that’s about as promising as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Eating should be about pleasure and enjoyment and so long as you are a meat eater, steak haché can taste great, however you classify it.

Just ask the three-Michelin-star French chef Pierre Koffmann, who grew up loving steak haché in the 1950s at his family home in Tarbes—in the Gascony province of southwest France—long before he ever tried burgers. 

“We used to have them every Monday,  but they were made with horse meat,” he says. “Only the horse-meat butcher was open on Mondays and my mother would make them. We loved them. Kids love steak haché and, of course, they are cheaper than steaks.

“She’d serve them with salad. In France, there was only one dressing at that time—mustard, oil, salt and vinegar. We had salad with every meal. But you can have them with French fries and they are really good with mashed potato.”

Here, London-based Koffmann shares his recipe. He is very relaxed about the amount of fat in the mince, where British chefs tend to consider 20% the minimum. And he also says it is fine to add mustard or other ingredients into the mix, though he did demur when I mentioned curry powder. I suggested eating the patty between leaves of iceberg lettuce, also not normal practice in Gascony.

The basic recipe is simple, though I did struggle with cooking times, alternately ending up with raw and well-done meat. The times below are the ones decreed by Koffmann after he tested his own recipe for Bloomberg. One tip: Resist the temptation to slide the steak around the pan. If you leave it in the same place, it develops a better crust.

Ingredients (for two burgers):
300 grams (11 ounces) of minced meat
One medium onion finely chopped
20 grams of butter
One clove of garlic
Two egg yolks
Salt and pepper


Richard Vines is Chief Food Critic at Bloomberg. Follow  him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines.

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Europe Starts Stumping Up Billions for Cash-Strapped Airlines

Government bailouts for the European airline industry are taking shape after France and the Netherlands pledged as much as 11 billion euros ($11.9 billion) to save Air France-KLM, and German rival Deutsche Lufthansa AG heads into a crucial week to work out a similar-sized rescue.

The lifelines to the region’s two biggest carriers by passenger traffic would come after each warned of impending cash crunches and their inability to survive the effects of the coronavirus pandemic without state help. They join a global chorus of distressed airlines that have grounded fleets, furloughed staff and decried the biggest crisis ever to confront the sector.

In the case of Air France-KLM, the French and Dutch governments — the carrier’s biggest shareholders — set aside a long-simmering conflict over how the group should be run to unveil two, albeit separate, packages of direct loans and guarantees to keep it afloat.

Read more: $12 Billion (1)” target=”_blank”>Air France-KLM to Get State Rescue of as Much as $12 Billion

For Lufthansa, the road map to salvation is just as politically fraught, involving German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governments of Austria, Belgium and Switzerland, where it operates so-called national flag carriers.

The willingness by France and likely Germany to shore up their ailing champions comes after the International Air Transport Association repeatedly warned the health crisis could bankrupt half the world’s airlines, with the hit to European carriers expected to reach $89 billion in lost sales. The U.K., traditionally less inclined to dole out taxpayer money, is extending loan guarantees to carriers that qualify. The U.S. is disbursing about $25 billion in payroll assistance, while airlines have also applied for government loans.

“All efforts are devoted to respond to this unprecedented shock,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and his Dutch counterpart, Wopke Hoekstra, said in a joint statement on the Air France-KLM aid package, adding that they will push the carrier to recover its competitiveness and financial footing.

Fairness Challenged

The move by France will probably serve as further ammunition to Michael O’Leary, the chief executive officer of budget carrier Ryanair Holdings Plc and the region’s most vocal opponent to state aid. He has told Europe’s top antitrust official that the airline may go to court to stop France and other countries from “selectively gifting billions of euros to their inefficient flag carriers.”

The French aid package may also spell more government intervention in the months ahead. The airline said it would consider a share issue to which the French state might participate. This raises the possibility that the direct 3 billion euro-loan extended by France could be transformed into equity, thereby raising its stake.

CEO Ben Smith has vowed to push ahead with a promised revamp, opening the door to voluntary staff departures to cut costs and a further expansion in the low-cost market.

German Debate

In Germany, Merkel’s negotiators and their counterparts at Lufthansa are expected to sit down in the coming days to hammer out a package of loans, credit guarantees and equity that could be worth around 10 billion euros, according to people familiar with the matter.

More on the aviation industry’s challenges:

Pivotal Lufthansa Bailout Snared in Government Tangle

Branson Weighs Bigger Infusion to Save Wobbling Virgin Atlantic

Airbus CEO Warns Workers It’s Bleeding Cash and Cuts Are Needed

How Coronavirus Will Forever Change Airlines and the Way We Fly

While Germany’s government negotiators have said the carrier won’t be allowed to fail, the sides have clashed over what strings will be attached to its contribution to state assistance that could total as much as 10 billion euros. Merkel’s center-left SPD coalition partners want any equity injection to come with a seat on Lufthansa’s board, whereas the company has pushed for a so-called silent participation, the people have said. Air France-KLM already has the French state on its board.

“We need to find a solution which will not lead to a permanent politicization of Lufthansa,” Christian Democratic Union lawmaker Joachim Pfeiffer, who is involved in the talks, said on Friday.

State Interests

Lufthansa connects Germany to the far-flung export markets on which its world-beating factory firms depend and, like Air France-KLM, is considered too strategic to be allowed to fail. In the case of the French carrier, its service to overseas territories like Martinique, French Guiana and New Caledonia as well as domestic routes have long kept it in the sights of successive governments as strategically important.

In the U.K., where the Conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proven to be adverse to plowing state funds directly into struggling companies, Richard Branson is fighting to save teetering Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.

His request for some 500 million pounds ($618 million) in U.K. funding guarantees has met with resistance, partly linked to the 69-year-old billionaire’s home in a British Virgin Islands tax haven. Low-cost EasyJet Plc has already tapped the state loan guarantee program.

Branson is considering pouring more money than he originally pledged in a bid to attract outside investors and gain access to hundreds of millions of pounds of state-backed loans, according to people familiar with the matter.

This week will also be decisive for discount regional and trans-Atlantic carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, which has already placed four units into bankrupcy protection and is pursuing a last-ditch plan to convert debt to equity. The airlne needs assent from bondholders and shareholders to fully access a 3 billion kroner ($282 million) bailout from Norway’s government.

— With assistance by Arne Delfs, and Birgit Jennen

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Eurozone Private Sector Collapses Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

The euro area private sector suffered its steepest fall in activity over two decades in April due to the measures taken to contain the spread of coronavirus, flash survey data from IHS Markit showed Thursday.

The flash IHS Markit composite output index plummeted to an all-time low of 13.5 in April, down from a prior record low of 29.7 in March. A score below 50 indicates contraction.

The reading was expected to fall moderately to 25.9 in April.

This was the largest monthly collapse in output recorded in over two decades of survey data collection. The COVID-19 pandemic was widely blamed for the deterioration in April as efforts to contain the virus intensified curbing citizens’ movement.

The services Purchasing Managers’ Index plunged to a record low of 11.7 from 26.4 in March. This was well below the forecast of 23.5.

Similarly, the manufacturing PMI came in at a 134-month low of 33.6, down from 44.5 in the previous month. The expected reading was 38.0.

“Our model which compares the PMI with GDP suggests that the April survey is indicative of the eurozone economy contracting at a quarterly rate of approximately 7.5%,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit said.

By region, the unprecedented scale of the collapse was broad-based, with composite flash PMI output indices hitting all-time lows in Germany and France.

The German private sector shrank in April as both services and manufacturing recorded decreases in output due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Germany’s headline flash composite output index declined to 17.1 in April from 35.0 in March. This was the lowest reading since comparable data were first compiled more than 22 years ago.

The flash factory PMI fell sharply to a 133-month low of 34.4 from 45.4 in March. The expected reading was 39.0. At the same time, the services PMI reached a record low of 15.9 versus 31.7 a month ago and forecast of 28.1.

The decline in French private sector activity also deepened in April amid ongoing business closures stifling both supply and demand.

The flash composite output index fell to a series low of 11.2 in April from 28.9 in March. This was also below the forecast of 25.3.

The services PMI declined to 10.4 from 27.4 a month ago. The expected score was 25.0. The manufacturing PMI came in at 31.5 in April, down from 43.2 in the previous month and economists’ forecast of 37.5.

As lockdown measures across the Eurozone are gradually lifted with many countries taking first small steps late April and early May, the question is how activity will pick up in the coming weeks, Bert Colijn, an ING economist said.

No one expects a quick bounce-back of activity, but some recovery from April lows would make sense as some businesses are allowed to cautiously reopen, the economist added.

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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday despite the negative cues from Wall Street Friday after a report from the U.S. Labor Department showed that employment in the U.S. fell much more than expected in the month of March.

Investor sentiment received a boost amid optimism that the number of coronavirus cases in New York, a U.S. hotspot for the pandemic, may be peaking. New York State reported its first decline in the number of daily coronavirus-related deaths as well as hospitalizations on Sunday. The coronavirus-related death toll in France and Italy has also slowed.

The Australian market is notably higher amid optimism about the slowdown in the number of coronavirus-related deaths in New York.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 100.20 points or 1.98 percent to 5,167.70, after rising to a high of 5,177.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 100.30 points or 1.96 percent to 5,207.20. Australian stocks gave up early gains to close sharply lower on Friday.

In the oil sector, Santos is gaining more than 4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by almost 3 percent after crude oil prices climbed 12 percent on Friday. Oil Search is in a trading halt ahead of an expected capital raising announcement.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining more than 4 percent and Newcrest Mining is rising more than 3 percent as safe-haven gold prices also rose on Friday.

Among the four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are higher in a range of 1.1 percent to 1.6 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is adding almost 1 percent.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is rising more than 1 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP are advancing almost 1 percent each.

Flight Centre Travel Group is tapping investors for $700 million and has secured an additional $200 million in loans from existing lenders due to the coronavirus pandemic. The travel firm’s shares are in a trading halt.

On the economic front, Australia will see the March inflation forecast from TD Securities as well as March data on job advertisements from ANZ today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was quoted at $0.5998, compared to $0.6063 on Friday.

The Japanese market is surging as investor sentiment received a boost after New York State reported its first decline in the number of daily coronavirus-related deaths as well as hospitalizations on Sunday.

Meanwhile, reports indicated that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to declare a state of emergency in the country following a surge in the number of infections in Tokyo and other major cities.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 476.02 points or 2.67 percent to 18,296.21, after rising to a high of 18,419.57 earlier. Japanese shares ended flat with a positive bias on Friday after four days of losses.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising more than 3 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing more than 2 percent.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Sony is rising more than 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 2 percent, Panasonic is higher by more than 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are rising more than 2 percent each. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 5 percent and Toyota is higher by more than 4 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is advancing more than 4 percent and Japan Petroleum is higher by more than 3 percent after crude oil prices gained almost 12 percent Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Fujifilm Holdings is climbing more than 7 percent, KDDI Corp. is higher by almost 7 percent, and NTT Docomo is rising almost 6 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 108 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia are rising almost 2 percent each, while Hong Kong and Taiwan are modestly higher. New Zealand is losing more than 2 percent and Malaysia is edging lower.

The markets in China and Thailand are closed on Monday for the Qingming Festival and Chakri Day, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Friday after a report from the Labor Department showed employment in the U.S. fell much more than expected in the month of March. The report said employment plunged by 701,000 jobs in March after jumping by an upwardly revised 275,000 jobs in February. Economists had expected employment to slump by 100,000 jobs compared to the addition of 273,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Dow tumbled 360.91 points or 1.7 percent to 21,052.53, the Nasdaq plunged by 114.23 points or 1.5 percent to 7,373.08 and the S&P 500 slumped 38.25 points or 1.5 percent to 2,488.65.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Friday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index plunged by 1.2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose sharply on Friday, climbing up for a second successive day amid rising hopes of deep production cuts by major oil producers, including Russia and Saudi Arabia. WTI crude oil futures for May ended up $3.02, or almost 12 percent, at $28.34 a barrel.

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