Battuto di Vitello—Veal Tartare from Piedmont, Italy


The simple pleasures of life are often the best.

I have always loved a great steak tartare but must confess an aversion to the classic French preparation, dressed so heavily with condiment, that you can no longer feel the consistency or taste the flavour of the meat in your mouth.  The Italian method is all the more beautiful for its simplicity.  Here, the meat is not ground, but rather chopped, giving a textural superiority to its cousins.

Veal meat is preferred for its subtle flavour, but a nice filet of beef from a well-reared animal is also divine.

  • 400 g of veal or young beef filet
  • 3-4 tablespoons of fresh, green olive oil, q.o.b.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon

First, slice the meat with a very sharp chef’s knife into very thin strips, keeping it all together.  Then turn it, and slice in the other direction, to obtain tiny dice.  Now, using the sharp end of this sharp knife, beat the meat against a cutting board, effectively mincing it.  Remove any stray pieces of white cartilage.

Transfer the meat to a bowl and fluff it up with a fork.  The idea is to lighten the consistency.  Season with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and let sit just long enough to ensure all salt crystals have dissolved.  Add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and mix everything together.  Taste for seasoning, adding oil, salt, pepper, even lemon to account for personal preference.  This is divine.

As a garnish, we often use thinly sliced pickled fennel (another recipe, another day) or coarsely chopped pickled Cipolle Rosse di Tropea—these are slightly sweet pink onion from the Calabria region in the South of Italy…but you could use vidalia onions for example, and prepare them with a small quantity of red wine vinegar (another recipe, another day) in the Mexican style.  If you are spoiled beyond belief and have a white truffle, then by all means, thinly shave it over your pasta.

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