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Ina’s Filet of Beef Carpaccio
Here’s one for the meat lovers in your family.
Before I met Tom, my favorite cut of beef was the end cut of the prime rib … well done and crusted in seasonings. I would never, ever eat anything less than medium well and, in the case of a hamburger, well done. Over the course of time, Tom wore me down… ok, broadened my horizons … until some 30 years later, I order my steaks medium-rare, and I now also love steak carpaccio.
Tom, on the other hand, started eating rare steak at an early age. One of his first memories of dining with his parents was when he was 10 and ordered a steak rare at a San Francisco restaurant. His dad admonished him saying that he had made a big mistake. The waiter, however, disagreed by saying, “Your son has good taste.”
Fast forward, and we are now fans of both carpaccio and steak tartare. What’s the difference? Carpaccio is an Italian term for raw, thinly sliced beef filet, while steak tartare is made from minced or chopped raw beef with accompaniments, such as raw egg and Dijon mustard. (Tom’s favorite steak tartare is at L’Escargot Bleu in Edinburgh, Scotland. We ate there again recently and he loved it just as much as he did in 2017.
MaiTai Tom Fun Fact: When we were in Milan in 2018 on our three-week Italy journey, we stopped into the Pinoteca do Brera and saw the Presentation of the Virgin painting by Vittore Carpaccio. How does that relate to this delectable appetizer? The description next to the painting read, “Once upon a time there was a Venetian Countess who could only eat raw meat and had lunch each day at Harry’s Bar. Every morning the cooks had to come up with a new recipe. After thousands of attempts, one day they offered her beef tenderloin sliced as thin as ham. Before serving it, a chef topped it with the Harry’s signature sauce. The Countess was so happy that she suggested calling the dish ‘Carpaccio’ in honor of the great Venetian painter [exhibiting] at the Palazzo Ducale.”
When the Barefoot Contessa’s Cook Like A Pro cookbook arrived, I was surprised to see a recipe for Filet of Beef Carpaccio, although I really should not have been surprised as Ina loves a good steak (check out her Steakhouse Steak recipe, it’s the best!).
This recipe is much easier than you would think. Sear the filet of beef, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it for two hours. Thinly slice and serve over a bed of spicy baby arugula with a delicious dressing made with egg yolks, mustard, garlic, and anchovies. Garnish with freshly grated Italian Parmesan and capers and be transported to Italy.
Of course, the greatness of this dish relies entirely on the quality of the beef as well as the Italian Parmesan. If you are a beef lover, the splurge is worth it.
Ina’s recipe calls for 1¼ pounds of filet of beef which serves 6-8 as an appetizer. For the two of us, I used two super trimmed, 2-inch thick, 6 oz. filet mignons and served it as a main course with a crispy English Jacket Potato on the side. I chose this potato recipe as the potatoes take two hours to bake, which is the amount of time the steak needs to be in the freezer.
If you are a rare beef aficionado, give this recipe a try. Così buono!
1 1/4 pounds filet of beef, trimmed and tied (or as noted above)
3/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for the beef
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons good Dijon mustard, at room temperature
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
2 anchovy fillets, drained
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, at room temperature (2 to 3 lemons)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese, plus shaved Parmesan for garnish
2 tablespoons capers, drained
3 cups baby arugula
Diamond Crystal Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fleur de Sel
Rub the beef with olive oil and sprinkle all over, including the sides, with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking to allow the salt to season and the steak to lose the chill.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
Sear the filet on all sides, turning it with tongs, about two minutes per side.
Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, mustard, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process for 15 seconds. Combine the 3/4 cup olive oil and the canola oil in a glass measuring cup. With the food processor running, slowly pour the oils down the feed tube in a thin stream. Add the grated Parmesan and pulse to combine.
Remove the plastic wrap and string from the beef and slice it very thin with a sharp knife. (Ina says since you’re slicing by hand, it will never be paper thin like a restaurant.) If serving as an appetizer, place 5 slices on each plate in a single layer. Drizzle the beef generously with the dressing and (in this order) sprinkle with the capers, kosher salt, pepper, arugula, shaved Parmesan, and a sprinkling of sea salt.
Recipe very lightly adapted from Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook