Don’t Burn the Sushi.
There’s a lot of confusion in the States about what Carpaccio is supposed to be. Even though the original incarnation at Harry’s Bar in Venice (Italy) was composed of raw beef, the word “Carpaccio” has nothing to do with beef. Carpaccio was an Italian Renaissance painter who was particularly fond of red, green, and what we would call “off white.” Some of his color balancing was quite vivid, esp. considering the more pastoral, pastel style of many of his contemporaries.
So, when the romanticized decision was made to call that raw beef dish “Carpaccio,” it was based on the fact that the presentation not only included red, green, and off white, it was also quite FLAT. Like a painting. Get it? So, nowadays, in Italy, there is Carpaccio that utilizes not only beef, but octopus, vegetables, pretty much anything that can be manipulated into a flat presentation. Even the colors themselves frequently do not comply with the original paradigm.
The Trappings of Authenticism.
When people see that I’m building a pasteurized Carpaccio, they pose object queries about how you can pasteurize raw beef without cooking it. Sometimes, there is no acceptable explanation. We all know that, sometimes, people just don’t WANT to find out that they didn’t know all there was to know about carpaccio or risotto or veal or red wine, whether they enjoy those thing or not.
For that matter, there are a lot more people that object to my version of Carpaccio than there are that even order it out. Maybe if it was a free appetizer, in the bar or something. Carpaccio is like risotto in that regard; people like to peruse menus and discuss it, but they usually opt for the seared scallop appetizer or the field green salad with balsamic dressing. Like I said, authenticism is a trap. Authentic according to who? According to WHERE?
Culinary authenticity is really just the oldest version of something that anybody remembers. No matter how old your recipe for porchetta is, there is undoubtedly an older, forgotten version that the newer one is just a bastardized version of. As long as there aren’t any really old people in the restaurant, no one will know that your Veal Parmesan is totally bogus–not to mention having been made with chicken instead of veal. At least I didn’t go THAT far.
So, after you’ve skeptically perused the article about aging beef, you can see just how far afield I went with this little morsel of Venetian bar food.
Well, at Least it’s Red, Green, and White.
- After the aging process is complete, I cut a 1 pound piece of the aged ribeye, vacuumed it, and processed it @127F/53CX12 hours.
- This cut is way too tender to need that kind of time in the bath, but we want to make sure it’s really pasteurized.
- At such a low temperature, it barely changes color.
- Once it’s done, we shock it in ice water to 70F.
- Even though we have minimized the presence of pathogens, the cooling process is just as important as the processing itself; it rushes the meat through the temperature zone where autolysis mechanisms are most active. Even in sterile meat, spoilage can occur.
- Next, we do the thing that nobody tells you to do for Carpaccio.
- FREEZE IT.
- Freezing to 32F/0C works miracles when you want to slice meat really thin, whether you are using your trusty slicer or a Hobart.
- The easiest way to do this is to freeze the meat solid, and then let it rest in the fridge for a while, until it gets just soft enough accept the blade.
- That’s what I call opening the vault.
- Slice the meat as thin as you can without it falling apart, and lay it on your platter immediately.
- Stacking ahead of time is not a good idea.
- It can be stored in the fridge overnight, if you cover it with plastic.
- The freezer trick doesn’t work with the tomatoes, so do the best you can.
- The mechanical slicer does work for tomatoes, if you’re gentle and calm.
- You can slice the Pecorino Romano on the machine, too, but you don’t really have to. A potato peeler works good.
- They called these “power greens” but they’re really just baby chard and baby kale. I get burned out on the whole field greens thing, and a little bitterness suits this dish well.
- Toss the greens with a piece of raw asparagus cut up, and a little Olive Oil, S+P. Don’t put any vinegar or lemon on the greens yet, it turns them black. Soon enough.
- Put another piece of cheese on top of the greens, and sprinkle a little S+P over the whole thing.
- Sprinkle with capers, a few drops of lemon juice, and a lemon wedge.
- Garnish with some garlic croutons.
- This is when you add the parsley, if you have some.
- Stand back and admire your work.
- Hey, there’s a Fender Stratocaster there, just like the one on the Derek and the Dominoes album!
- Looks good up close, too.
- Look at dem berries! Actually, capers are the unopened flower buds of a low trailing Mediterranean evergreen, Capparis Spinosa.