In France, finely minced raw beef is called steak tartare and is served with a raw egg. In northern Italy's Piedmont region, it is considerably different and called carne cruda all'albese, meaning "raw meat, Alba-style." Alba is a town in the Piedmont region famed for its precious white truffles.
This Italian version of steak tartare is served with thin shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It's also common to find it with those prized white truffles (tartufi bianchi). In either version, it is simply dressed with freshly squeezed lemon juice and high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.
Even if you think that you don't like raw meat, this recipe is definitely worth trying. The citrus gently cooks the meat and it is a rare treat when made with high-quality, grass-fed beef.
- 1 pound beef (organic filet, high-quality, grass-fed)
- 2 lemons (juiced)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and slightly crushed)
- 1/3 cup olive oil (approximately)
- Sea salt to taste (fine)
- Black pepper to taste (freshly ground)
- Optional: 1 anchovy (salted anchovy, rinsed, boned and minced)
- Optional: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Optional: 1 white truffle (or fresh wild mushroom)
Choose the Right Meat
The quality of the meat is, of course, paramount to the success of the dish. Considering that it will be served raw and the occasional outbreaks in commercially slaughtered meats, selecting the proper meat is very important.
You want a thick, whole piece of beef filet. The filet cut is perfectly tender for the dish and when it's whole, the bacteria that can cause food poisoning cannot penetrate the entire piece of meat.
Instead, it stays on the surface.
When you get the filet home, quickly sear it on all sides with the intent of killing whatever's on the surface, not cooking the meat. Remove it from the flames, trim away the seared sections, and you're ready to proceed.
Prepare Carne Cruda
- Chop the meat very finely with a sharp, 8-inch chef's knife. Do not use a food processor or meat grinder because the texture will suffer.
- In a medium bowl, combine the meat with 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 for 10 minutes (minimum) to 2 hours (maximum). The longer it sits, the less pink it will become because the lemon juice cooks the meat. Purists prefer shorter sitting times.
- Before serving, remove and discard the garlic cloves and arrange the meat in small mounds on serving dishes. Sprinkle each serving with finely shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and paper-thin shavings of white truffle (if using either).
White truffle is a wonderful treat, but it is also quite expensive. Alternatively, you can use almost any fresh wild mushroom.