In France, finely minced raw beef is called steak tartare, it is served with a raw egg cracked into it. In northern Italy's Piedmont region, however, it is served with thin shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and/or prized white truffles (tartufi bianchi), simply dressed with freshly squeezed lemon juice and high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. It's called "carne cruda all'albese," meaning, "raw meat, Alba-style." Alba is a town in the Piedmont region famed for its precious white truffles.
You should try this even if you think you don't like raw meat, as it is a rare treat, when made with high-quality, grass-fed beef.
The quality of the meat is of course paramount to the success of the dish, and, considering the horrid bugs that occasionally strike those who use commercially slaughtered meats, selecting it properly is very important. You want a thick, whole piece of beef filet. Filet because it's tender enough, and whole because the bacteria that can cause food poisoning can't penetrate a whole piece of meat -- they stay on the surface. When you get it home, quickly sear it on all sides -- you're just killing whatever's on the surface, not cooking the meat. Then remove it from the flames, trim away the seared sections, and you're ready to proceed.
[Edited by Danette St. Onge]
- 1 pound high-quality, grass-fed, organic filet of beef
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed with the side of a chef's knife
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 rinsed, boned and minced salted anchovy (optional)
- 1 white truffle or fresh wild mushroom (optional)
- Fresh, thin shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
- Chop the meat very finely with a sharp, 8-inch chef's knife. (Don't use a food processor or meat grinder, because the texture will suffer.)
- Place the meat in a medium bowl and mix in the lemon juice and garlic cloves.
- Season abundantly with olive oil (as much as the lemon juice or perhaps more), salt, and pepper. If you are using the anchovy, add it now.
- Let the meat sit from 10 minutes (minimum) to 2 hours (maximum). The longer it sits, the more the pinkness will fade, as the lemon juice cooks the meat. Purists prefer shorter sitting times.
- Before serving, remove and discard the garlic cloves and arrange in small mounds on serving dishes. Sprinkle each serving with some finely shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (if using) and paper-thin shavings of white truffle (if using--white truffle is a wonderful treat, but of course it is also quite expensive) or alternatively, fresh wild mushroom.