Friday, August 11, 2017


     A Simple Italian Antipasti!
     Carpaccio was originally created at a restaurant in Venice, Italy, by a chef for a loyal female patron.  Carpaccio is named after a famous Italian painter.  When putting two and two together, it is easy to see that Carpaccio was designed to classically romance a customer.
     The original Carpaccio was a petite portion of paper thin sliced lean raw beef draped on a plate.  The raw beef was lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper.  The original sauce was a combination of lemon juice, olive oil, seasoning and Dijon Mustard, which was made "a la minute."  A garnish of fragrant peppery greens, like arugula or watercress, is the classic choice.  Shaved Parmigiana Cheese always is sprinkled on the Carpaccio just before it is served.
     The flavors of the original Carpaccio were crisp and appealing, yet a sauce made with Dijon Mustard was not really Italian.  In fact, most Italian chefs from that period in history did not stock Dijon Mustard in their kitchen at all.  As far as that goes, France was the chief culinary competitor of Italy, so using French food items to create Italian food was pretty much deemed as being taboo by fellow chefs.  
     As the Carpaccio antipasti gained popularity, regional Italian chefs offered this item in their restaurants.  Because of the mustard discrepancy and the lack of stocking Dijon Mustard in an Italian restaurant kitchen, most chefs opted to leave the mustard out of the accompanying sauce recipe.  The result was a simple lemon and olive oil sauce that was a better representation of Venetian cuisine.  A simple sauce of lemon juice and virgin olive oil has been the standard for Carpaccio ever since.
     Many modern chefs are naturally drawn toward selecting a premium cut of beef, like the tenderloin section, when making Carpaccio.  The sad truth is that beef tenderloin has too bland of a flavor when it is served raw.  The original cut of beef for Carpaccio is the Eye Of Round.  The Eye Of Round is also called the "Mock Tenderloin."  For Carpaccio, this beef cut selection makes sense for a few reasons.  The Eye Of Round is very lean and it has a much heartier beef flavor than tenderloin.  Because the Eye Of Round is so lean, it is notoriously tough if it is overcooked, so serving this cut of beef as Carpaccio is a good choice.  
     Cutting the Eye Of Round into thin slices too far ahead of time will cause the beef to oxidize and the beef will lose flavor.  Cutting paper thin slices of Eye Of Round is also a challenging task in itself, but there is a little trick involved that will make the project much easier to accomplish.  If the Eye Of Round is partially frozen, then the meat can easily be cut into paper thin slices with a razor sharp chef knife or an electric meat slicing machine.  If a knife is used, apply downward pressure while rocking the blade back and forth on the partially frozen Eye Of Round.  With patience, each thin slice will be perfect.
     This recipe yields 1 appetizer portion.
     You will need a razor sharp chef knife or a good electric meat slicer machine to cut paper thin slices of Beef Eye Of Round.  If your knife skills are not adept or there is no meat slicer in the kitchen, then ask the butcher to cut the Eye Of Round into paper thin slices for Carpaccio.  Most butchers know what Carpaccio is.  Be sure that the butcher separates the paper thin slices across a piece of parchment paper, or the thin slices of beef will stick to each other.
     Step 1:  Select a section of Eye Of Round at a butcher shop.
     Trim off any fat or silver floss from the Eye Of Round.
     Step 2:  Cover the Eye Of Round Section with plastic wrap.
     Place the beef section in a freezer.
     Freeze till the beef section is very firm and almost solid.
     Remove the plastic wrap.
     Step 3:  Use a meat slicer machine to slowly cut very thin slices of Beef Eye Of Round.  (About 1/16" to 1/8" thick.)
     *If no meat slicer is available, then use a large razor sharp chef knife and follow this step:
     Grasp the partially frozen Beef Eye Of Round and firmly hold it against a cutting board.
     Press the blade firmly down on the partially frozen meat and rock the knife blade slowly back and forth.  The paper thin slices of partially frozen beef will curl off of the blade.
     Each slice of beef should be placed on the serving plate immediately after it has been sliced.
     Overlap the beef slices on a serving plate, till the plate is covered.  (A 3 1/2 to 4 ounce portion is plenty.)
     Step 4:  Lightly season the thin sliced beef with 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Place a small bunch of watercress or arugula greens on top of the thin sliced beef on the back half of the plate.
     Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil over the beef and watercress.
     Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice over the beef and watercress.
     Sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of thin shaved Parmigiana Cheese over the beef.
     Garnish with a thin lemon slice curl.

     Carpaccio is a simple delicious light antipasti that will impress guests!

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