Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How to make carpaccio

When the first-ever plate of carpaccio emerged from the kitchen at Harry's Bar in Venice in 1950, it consisted of only two ingredients: thinly sliced raw beef and a sauce drizzled on top.

Since then the name carpaccio has come to mean virtually any type of thinly sliced meat or even fish. And the original recipe (named for the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio) has been adapted many times over.

I prefer the old Harry's Bar beef carpaccio over other versions, but with one addition: very fresh, undressed arugula.

I know that this may turn the dish into more summer salad than red-meat appetizer, but is that really such a bad thing? In August? 

Anybody with decent knife skills and an ability to mix a few standard ingredients into a sauce can make a pretty respectable carpaccio, by the way. Not a single thing here requires cooking.

Of course, it helps if you enjoy eating raw beef.

Which I do.

This is three-quarters of a pound of beef sirloin fillet, enough for four very generous portions. Other cuts can also be used; just make sure to trim off as much fat and gristle as you can (like on the lower portion of the fillet here). Also, the meat must be very cold in order to slice properly, so let it rest in the freezer for maybe 20 minutes before working.

Carpaccio must be very thinly sliced, but I think that pounding is even better. First cut the fillet into thin slices, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then place them in between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound even thinner. Make sure to leave plenty of space between the slices when lining them in the plastic, as they will widen when pounded.

You're shooting for paper-thin slices, but don't worry if they are not literally so. Overworking can easily tear the slices. The main thing is to make them thin, and keep them in one piece.

If you imagine this without the arugula you would be looking at the classic version of carpaccio, simply dressed with a sauce made largely of mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce.

Either way works for me.

Carpaccio sauce
Adapted from The Harry's Bar Cookbook by Harry Cipriani

Makes about 1 cup

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 to 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tsp milk
white pepper

In a bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.
Whisk in enough milk to make the sauce thin enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, Worcestershire and lemon.

1 comment:

Claudia said...

Awwww.... my mother would have swooned. She adored this and I was always terrified to make it - not possessing good knife skills. But it is a beauty.