Beef Carpaccio a la Spencer

Beef carpaccio is one my favorite things to make and eat. It’s light, it’s flavorful, it’s colorful, and it’s elegant. And it’s a lot easier to make than you might think. Beef carpaccio is open to lots of variations, but the best preparation I make is with shaved parmesan, dijon aioli, arugula, and fried capers. All the contrasting textures and flavors make for an absolutely stunning dish. 
I made this dish for Regina early on in our relationship. She adored it, and now she’s my fiance! Was it the beef carpaccio? Perhaps. Perhaps.

You’ll need, for two large servings:

• one pound of prime filet mignon, trimmed of excess fat and silverskin (you’ll have leftovers)
• vegetable oil, for frying
• 1/4 cup of capers, drained and dried
• 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, preferably homemade
• 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
• cracked black pepper
• fleur de sel (delicate sea salt crystals from France)
• one shallot, thinly shaved, briefly soaked in cold water in cold water and drained
• 2 tablespoons chives, cut into short batons
• 1/4 cup excellent parmesan cheese, shaved and crumbled
• 1 cup of baby arugula, washed well and dried
• good balsamic vinegar
• sliced baguette, toasted or grilled.

Prep the carpaccio:


Wrap the filet in plastic and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once it’s firmed up it’ll be easier to slice thinly. Remove plastic and, using a very sharp slicing knife, cut slices a 1/4-inch thick. I like to use three or four slices per serving.

You’ll need to pound out the meat with a mallet. To do this I recommend taking apart a ziploc bag (one for each serving). Cut off the “zipper” with scissors and run a sharp knife down the insides of the two sides of the bag to slit open. Leave the bottom portion of the bag attached at the fold, so that you have a large plastic surface, top and bottom, to pound out the filet.

Slice your meat thinly. 

Open trimmed bag and lay three or four slices on the bottom half. Fold the top half over and gently flatten the meat slices until they are uniformly thin, about 1/16 – 1/8 inch in thickness. In doing so the meat slices will spread out and converge in the middle.

Beat your meat.
Ready for the freezer.
Next, place the prepared carpaccio on a flat surface in the freezer until ready for service. Freeze at least one hour. Meanwhile, ready the garnishes. 
Heat an inch of vegetable oil in a small pot over medium high flame; you want the oil hot but not smoking. Test the heat of the oil by adding one caper. The caper should sizzle (but not explode!) on contact. Add capers and fry until crisp. When they’re finished they will all be floating on the surface and most of the sizzling will have abated. The sizzling and bubbling is the moisture in the caper releasing and steaming out in the intense heat of the oil. Since the idea is to have a crisp, dry caper, you want this moisture to be gone, mostly. Using a skimmer, remove the fried capers and drain on paper towels. 
Now, make the dijon aioli by mixing the mayo, the mustard, the water, and a teaspoon of olive oil in a small bowl. Add some cracked pepper, a pinch of salt, and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until ready for service. 
Make the dijon aioli. 
Remove the carpaccio from the freezer about 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve it. When it has softened, peel back the top portion of the plastic. Flip the exposed meat onto a very large plate and press the meat onto the surface of the plate. Gently peel off the plastic and trim any excess beef that might be overhanging the plate edge. 
All your garnishes: fried capers, arugula, dijon aioli, minced chives,
shaved parmesan, shaved shallots.
Over the carpaccio drizzle a tablespoon or two of the aioli, drizzle a teaspoon or more of olive oil. Sprinkle some fleur de sel over the top, crack some black pepper as well. Scatter a small fistful of parmesan, plus chives, a few slices of shallot, and some fried capers. 
In a small bowl lightly dress the arugula with a tiny amount of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Place this salad atop the carpaccio. Serve with toasted or grilled baguette and eat up!

Same dish, different plate. 
A note on the consumption of raw meat. If you’re pregnant or have a weak immune system you may wish to avoid raw beef. But as long you buy from a reputable meat purveyor, it’s very unlikely you’ll have any issues. Freezing the meat for a short period of time also reduces the chances of meat-bourne illness.

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