Italian appetizer Beef Carpaccio is a rare treat

01/07/2014 1:00 PM

01/07/2014 7:18 PM

Heather Popper was in middle school, dining at an Italian restaurant, the first time she tasted carpaccio. It was love at first bite. But as much as she loves it, Popper, now a student chef at Johnson County Community College, doesn’t fix the dish for her family. They prefer meat well done, “like charcoal,” she said. So she mostly makes it for her foodie friends or doesn’t mention that the meat is raw and covers it heavily with sauce. “This is a simple yet very elegant dish,” Popper said. It’s a great starter for a meal featuring seafood — she suggests following it with a seafood pasta dish. Though it’s most often associated with beef, carpaccio can be made with fish as well. While she prepared individual servings of the appetizer for this presentation, she said it can also be prepared for larger groups on a platter, and guests can serve themselves. Either way, it’s best served with some kind of bread. Popper recommends a toasted Italian loaf. Her tips: • Don’t be tempted to substitute just any cut of beef for the tenderloin. The tenderloin is marbled and has a nice shape as well as the delicate taste that’s needed for this dish. One possible substitution is the teres major cut, which is part of the cow’s shoulder. It doesn’t yield as much as the tenderloin, Popper said. • Use a sharp fillet knife, the sharper the better, for cutting the tenderloin. And be sure to freeze it as directed for even cuts. • When searing the meat, don’t be alarmed if the oil catches on fire. That happens sometimes during the searing process. Simply remove the pan from the stove, let the fire go out on its own, and return it to the stove to complete the process.

Beef Carpaccio

Makes 4 servings

Beef:

8 to 10 ounces beef tenderloin

Salt, to taste

Cracked black pepper, to taste

Pickled Onions:

1/2 red onion, sliced thin

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (black pepper can be substituted)

Sauce:

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 to 2 leaves fresh basil, cut in chiffonade

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Cucumber and arugula salad:

1/2 cup red leaf lettuce, washed and cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup arugula, washed and cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup radicchio, washed and cut into bite-size pieces

1/3 cup romaine, washed and cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut julienne style

Parmesan cheese, shaved, to taste

Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Wrap the beef tenderloin in plastic wrap and place in freezer until frozen, at least

2 hours.

While the beef is freezing, pickle the onions: Place onions in a small saucepan of boiling water. Cover and cook for 1 minute, remove from heat and drain. Immediately place onions in an ice bath. Return onions to pan and add vinegar, salt, pepper and enough cold water to cover the onions. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and reduce to a simmer on low heat. Simmer for about 1 minute. Transfer onions and brine to a large jar or bowl and refrigerate. The onions should turn a pale pink and become crisp as they chill.

Prepare the sauce: Whisk together vinegar, mustard, basil, salt and pepper, mixing thoroughly. Slowly pour in the oil, mixing it well to emulsify. Refrigerate.

Remove beef from freezer. Lightly oil a sauté pan on high heat. Quickly sear each side of the meat. Do not cook through; the meat should remain mostly rare and frozen in the center.

Once all sides have been seared, using a sharp fillet knife, slice the meat as thinly as possible. Place each slice on sheet of plastic wrap. To make the slices even thinner, gently pound the beef with a mallet through the plastic wrap. Be careful to not tear the meat or plastic wrap.

Mix salad greens and cucumber.

Arrange sliced meat on four individual serving plates. Add salad mixture. Top with Parmesan cheese and about 1 tablespoon of the pickled red onions. Drizzle sauce over the carpaccio; garnish with fresh cracked pepper.

Per serving: 166 calories (58 percent from fat), 11 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 30 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 196 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

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