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La Belle Cuisine - More Appetizer Recipes

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Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

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Beef Carpaccio,
and Four Ways to Serve It



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La Belle Cuisine


Beef Carpaccio,
and Four Ways to Serve It

Zuni Cafe

By Judy Rodgers, © 2002, W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.
Wine notes and selections by Gerald Asher, © 2002

“Carpaccio, a popular culinary idiom that promises a plate lined with thinly
sliced meat, fish, or whatever the cook intends to glamorize, has suffered from overexposure, but this does not dim the luster of the brilliant original dish.
Born at Harry’s Bar in Venice, and named for the Renaissance painter, thin
sheets of pounded raw beef carpaccio make a sensual, elegant first course or
light main course, The meat is just resistant to the tooth and subtly flavored.
Easy to overwhelm, carpaccio shows best in restrained counterpoint, with
careful contrasts of flavor, texture and temperature.
Quang Nguyen, perhaps the cleverest cook among the many I have learned
from at Zuni, fine-tuned this technique for preparing the classic dish. The
meat should be chilled until very cold – but not frozen, since that damages
the flavor and the texture – and then sliced and pounded by hand.
Use very fresh, bright red top round for carpaccio, and ask for a chunk that
is all from a single muscle. At its best, it has a slight, clean tang and a firm,
but not chewy, texture. All of our trials with beef fillet instead have been
disappointing in comparison. Although it is easier to trim, and is conven-
iently shaped, tender fillet reads ‘mushy’ in this context. What’s more,
served cold and raw, it can taste dull and ‘organy’.
Count on about 3 ounces finished carpaccio per serving, but buy extra to
allow for trim. Just under 1 pound should be plenty for 4 servings, and
you will likely have some nice scraps left over…”

Carpaccio with Lemon and Olive Oil

Wine: Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir, 1999

For 4 servings:

1 pound top round
Extra-virgin olive oil (a little to brush the
paper, plus about 1/4 cup to garnish)
1 lemon, halved
A small chunk of tuna bottarga,
to grate on top (optional)

Preparing the sheets of carpaccio
[steps are illustrated in the cookbook]:

Trim the meat of every bit of surface discoloration, fat, and sinew.
Chill thoroughly to firm the muscle and make it easier to slice.
Cut 8 sheets of parchment paper 12 to 14 inches square.
Position the knife at a right angle to the grain of the muscle and slice
the meat 1/4 inch thick. Cutting across the grain allows you to pound
the meat evenly and produces the best texture. Excise any sinew or
fat you encounter along the way.
Brush one sheet of parchment paper with olive oil. Lay about 3 ounces
of sliced meat in the center. A serving need not be a single slice – you
may need to compose it of a few smaller slices. If so, make sure the
slices are not overlapping. Place a second sheet of paper over the
meat and press to smooth. Repeat with the remaining slices of meat
to make 4 “packages”.
Working outward from the center, pound the meat evenly with a meat pounder or a flat-faced rubber mallet. Pound just hard enough to stretch
the muscle without tearing the fibers. If you are too aggressive, the meat
will disintegrate into uninteresting bits. Aim for a thickness of 1/16 inch.
Hold the paper up to the light to check for evenness. Smooth the pounded carpaccio with one light pass of a rolling pin. The finished sheets of
carpaccio will be two to three times bigger than the un-pounded meat.

Refrigerate promptly. If it suits your schedule, you can complete this
phase up to 12 hours in advance, although for optimum flavor, try to
serve within 6 hours.

Serving the carpaccio:

Carefully peel off one sheet of parchment from each “package,” then
lay its exposed meat side on a cold plate. Press to smooth, then carefully
peel away the other sheet.
Season lightly with salt, then finish with a long drizzle of extra-virgin
olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. I sometimes add a dusting of
finely grated bottarga as well. Bottarga is salted, dried fish roe –
bottarga di tonno is made from tuna roe; bottarga di mugine is
milder, firmer gray mullet roe.
Or try one of the following elaborations. In each case, be stingy with
the garnishes; they are meant to flatter the carpaccio, not obscure it.


Carpaccio with Crispy Artichoke
Hearts & Parmigiano-Reggiano

Wine: Pomino Rosso, Frescobaldi, 1998

4 pounded sheets carpaccio [above]
8 small artichokes (firm and heavy for their size)
About 1/2 cup mild-tasting olive oil
A small chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano
(about 2 ounces)
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, pressed between
dry towels, and barely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, halved
Freshly cracked black pepper

Just before serving, “turn” the artichokes. First remove a few outer
layers of leaves from each artichoke to reveal the pale, kidskin-soft
inner petals. Trim off the tip and stem, then use the top of a paring
knife to trim around the circumference of the base. Thinly slice.
Warm the mild olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Drop
an artichoke sliver in the oil, and when it begins to sizzle, add the rest.
Stir to coat, then swirl the pan to spread the artichokes into an even
lacy layer. They should not quite float in the oil. Stirring every 15
seconds or so, fry until just firm and pale golden on many edges,
about 2 to 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the pan whenever bits of artichoke cling to them,
and adjust the heat as needed to maintain a discreet sizzle. The oil
should never smoke. Drain in a strainer, then tip the artichokes onto
a dry paper towel. Discard the frying oil.
Turn the carpaccio onto plates and salt very lightly and evenly. Scatter
the gilded slivers, still hot, over the meat. Use a vegetable peeler to
shave thin curls of cheese over all. Scatter with the capers, then drizzle
with the extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Finish with
black pepper.


Carpaccio with Celery Leaf Salsa Verde

Wine: Chateau Routas, “Rouvière,” Coteaux Varois Rosé, 2000

4 pounded sheets carpaccio [above]
1/2 cup Celery Leaf Salsa Verde
A small chunk of pecorino Romano
(about 1 ounce)

Turn the carpaccio onto plates. Salt lightly and evenly. Splatter with
the salsa verde. Use a vegetable peeler to shave tiny nicks of pecorino
Romano over all.
For a more ambitious version, garnish each plate with a few little stalks
(up to 4 inches long) of fried celery hearts, a modest handful that you
can fry properly in just a few cups of peanut oil.


Carpaccio with Fried Potatoes & Truffles

“The Troisgros brothers served this carpaccio; both loved to wrap the cold
meat around the warm, crispy potatoes. The truffles are an optional garnish;
lacking them, add a very little truffle oil to the vinaigrette.”

Wine: Baga, Beira, Luis Pato 1999

1 pound peeled (just over 1 pound whole) yellow-fleshed
potatoes, preferably Yellow Finnish or Bintjes, cut into
irregular 1 1/2-inch chunks
About 1/2 cup mild-tasting olive oil, for shallow-frying,
or 4 cups peanut oil, for deep-frying
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
A few drops of truffle oil if not using fresh truffles
4 pounded sheets carpaccio (above)
2 handfuls of arugula (about 1 1/2 ounces), carefully
washed and dried, at room temperature
1/2 to 1 ounce fresh black or white truffle (optional)

Cooking the potatoes:
Place the potatoes in a saucepan and add cold water to cover. Season moderately with salt (I use a generous teaspoon sea salt per quart), stir,
and taste. The water should taste perfectly seasoned. Bring to a simmer
and cook gently until the potatoes are tender but not soft on the outside, usually about 5 minutes. Drain and immediately spread out in towels to
cool and dry.
To shallow-fry:
This operation sounds more tricky than it is. Potatoes
fried this way are addictive. Warm the mild olive oil in a 12-inch skillet
over medium heat. Choose a small, firm piece of potato and set it in
the pool of oil. When it begins to sizzle, carefully distribute the rest of
the potatoes evenly around the pan. They should just fit, making a
starchy mosaic.
Some of the potatoes may stick initially, but don’t fuss with them now –
once freed, they are doomed to stick again, leaving a rough crust on the bottom of the pan, which will inevitably burn, instead of browning the potatoes. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady sizzle. The oil should
never smoke. After about 5 minutes, the potatoes should be browning
around the edges and a nice crust should have set. Swirl the pan
cautiously and use tongs or a metal spatula to gently turn the potatoes.
It’s now okay to pry any slightly reluctant chunks cleanly from the
pan. Continue to fry, turning the potatoes occasionally, for about 20
minutes, until they are mottled golden all over and crunchy. (They
will shrink a lot as water evaporates from the flesh.) Drain on towels.
To deep-fry:
Heat the peanut oil to about 365 degrees F in a 3-quart
sauté pan. Lower the potatoes into the oil and fry until golden and
crispy, usually 5 to 7 minutes. Drain on a towel.
Whichever frying method you use, keep the potatoes warm while you
plate the carpaccio. (But don’t pile them atop one another, or they
will steam and the crust will soften.)

Finishing the carpaccio:

Combine the extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar, and salt to taste. The
vinaigrette should be mild, to avoid overwhelming the truffle. If using
truffle oil in lieu of truffles, add a few drops to the vinaigrette.
Turn the carpaccio onto plates, then brush or drizzle all over with
vinaigrette. Toss the arugula with vinaigrette to coat, and add as much
thinly sliced black or white truffle as you could afford. This is the one
garnish you need not fear abusing in a carpaccio dish.
Scatter the salad over the meat and finish with the hot, crispy potatoes.

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Fillet of Beef with Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes and
Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Steak Tartare Louis
Zuni Cafe's Roasted Fillet of Beef with Black Pepper

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