On first glance, you might think that this recipe is an example of Italian fusion: a Venetian meat creation topped with a Piedmontese sauce. The reality is that carne cruda, chopped or sliced raw beef, has long been a part of the Piedmontese kitchen. Dressed simply with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, it is sometimes topped with shavings of white truffles, a regional addiction. Carpaccio, however, was created at
Carpaccio is a natural for the enoteca menu. The sliced meat is typically refrigerated between sheets of oiled parchment or plastic wrap; then when an order is placed, the meat is slapped onto a serving plate and garnished in innumerable ways. Entire carpaccio menus have been created with the beef as a base for thin slices of porcini or raw artichokes or shavings of Parmesan. At the Enoteca del Gatto in Anzio, the beef is topped with toasted pine nuts, Parmesan curls, and a drop or two of aged balsamic vinegar.
While Harry’s Bar serves carpaccio with a mayonnaise-based sauce, L’Enoteca Les Pertzes, a wine bar in Cogne in Val d’Aosta, serves a carpaccio of young veal topped with bagna cauda. Bagna cauda, a Piedmontese specialty, is associated with the garlic-loving province of Cuneo. It is a hot sauce of olive oil, garlic, and anchovy into which diners typically dip pieces of bread or grissini and vegetables such as carrots, celery, cardoons, red peppers, and mushrooms. But it is also a delicious topping for raw beef, as this recipe illustrates.
The quality of the meat is of primary importance, so it is imperative to patronize a top-quality butcher. Ask the butcher to slice the meat paper-thin. Some recipes recommend freezing the meat and then slicing it, but I find that the thawed meat tastes rather watery. As an alternative, ask the butcher to slice the meat about
To prepare the bagna cauda, combine the olive oil, garlic, and anchovies in a small pan and warm over very, very low heat, stirring often and mashing the anchovies with a wooden spoon, until you have a creamy sauce, about 15 minutes. Add the butter and stir until the butter melts. Keep warm.
To serve the carpaccio, place the sliced beef or veal on 6 plates. If the slices are small, arrange them in an overlapping rose pattern. If they are large, use one or two to cover each plate. If desired, top the meat with the mushrooms and artichokes, then grind on a little black pepper. Drizzle the bagna cauda over the meat and serve.
© 2001 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.