Classic Carpaccio

This isn’t exactly a recipe, at least in the way I normally I think of them, but more of a “how to.” No cooking is required. And yes, I know it’s a “meatless Monday,” but what the heck, carpaccio is one of the finer things in life if you’re not revolted at the idea of eating raw meat. If that’s not your cup of tea, move on. Nothing to see here. Some time ago, I posted a lamb carpaccio, and some of what I said there applies to all carpaccio. This, however, is the classic version, the one you’ll see in many Italian restaurants or in steak houses and other fine restaurants. 

The components for assembly are listed below so I’ll focus here on the beef — steak actually. I use tenderloin, the cut that’s used to make fillet mignon. It’s very lean and tasty. A good rib roast is the second best choice. It has to be cut into paper thin slices. If you can, find a butcher who is willing to use a slicer to cut/shave it for you (assuming you don’t have your own). If not, put the tenderloin in the freezer for about 15 minutes and you’ll be able to slice it thin (about 1/8 inch) with a well-sharpened knife. That’s not the end of it, however. The slices you’ve cut with a knife have to be placed between a couple of pieces of plastic and pounded with a meat mallet (or something else smooth and heavy, like a rolling pin, until they’re so thin you can practically see through them.

The are two important things to bear in mind when you’re making carpaccio. Use safe food handling practices. That is, make sure that everything that touches the beef is as clean as can be, including your hands, and keep the meat and the plate it’s placed upon chilled, if possible. Second, use the best ingredients you can find. Don’t be tempted to use cheaper beef or poor quality extra virgin olive oil. Scrimping on either will ruin the dish. If you can possibly do it, get the steak from a local producer and use pastured, grass-fed steak. 

Classic Carpaccio
Classic carpaccio is easy to assemble and delicious as an appetizer or light lunch. Be sure to use high-quality beef and the best olive oil you can find.
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  1. 2-3 oz. beef tenderloin or high-quality boneless rib roast, sliced thin and/or pounded until it is paper thin.
  2. Extra virgin olive oil
  3. Fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 shallot, sliced very thin
  5. Capers
  6. Shaved Parmesan cheese
  7. Coarse sea salt
  8. Chopped parsley or thinly sliced sweet pepper rings for garnish
  1. Refrigerate the shaved steak pieces for at least 15 minutes before preparing the dish. Chill the plate, too if you can.
  2. Lay the steak slices in a single layer on a large plate, then add the shallots and capers.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the steak and top with parmesan shavings and coarse sea salt.
  4. Garnish and serve cold.
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