While I admit that I consume as many fresh vegetables and fruits into my daily diet as possible, from time to time my body craves a hearty protein. While a "hunk of steak" can be difficult to digest (especially when used to consuming more "fiber rich" produce), one of my favorite treats is a thinly-pounded and perfectly seasoned beef carpaccio. Carpaccio is the international name of a typical Italian dish that is made with raw meat and served mainly as an appetizer. Because the dish is raw, it is essential that a fresh, quality cut of meat to used (no, none of the "manager's special" discount meats at your local grocery store). In terms of cost, fret not; only a small amount of meat is needed for preparation. That being said, opt for a fresh piece of beef sirloin - as it is more flavorful that a fillet, as well as able to "hold its own" when seasoned properly.
Beef Carpaccio with truffle oil, pine nuts, creamy havarti, orange zest and shallots
1 medium shallot
2 Tbsp red wine/pomegranate vinegar
2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
Zest of 1 orange
2 oz Creamy Havarti, for garnish
Truffle oil, to drizzle
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 oz leaf beef (beef sirloin/tenderloin)
Pomegranate seeds (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper and smokey paprika
First, peel and dice the shallot into a fine mince. Place in a small bowl with the pomegranate vinegar (if you cannot find pomegranate vinegar, then you may opt for red wine vinegar instead). Add a pinch of salt, cayenne pepper and smokey paprika, then allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Cut the beef into 1 ounce-slices. Trim away any large layers of fat or gristle (it is white). Place each slice in between 2 layers of heavy-plastic wrap or parchment paper. Carefully pound the beef flat with a meat mallet (can also use a rolling pin) until the thickness is only about 1/16inch. Again, the goal is to pound into very thin slices. Place the flattened slices in the refrigerator in order to chill (no not remove the plastic). You may prepare the meat up to a few hours before serving in this state.
In order to serve, gently peel the top layer of plastic away from each slice. Invert the slices onto a chilled plate and slowly peel away the remaining plastic. Top each slice with a light drizzle of truffle oil, orange zest, marinated shallot, pomegranate seeds, creamy Havarti cheese and micro-greens. Serve immediately.
When serving carpaccio, I have had requests before in first "kissing" the beef on a saute pan with a light sear before serving. Granted, this method no longer constitutes as a "true carpaccio," since, there is a short element of cooking; however, the same technique can be used. Simply season the beef on all sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then saute (I use walnut or almond oil) briefly on each side (only 20 seconds). The goal is to create a textural contrast when enjoying the beef... a rich edge encrusting a vibrant raw interior. Allow the beef to cool before slicing and pounding in the same manner described above.
"To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short" - Confucius