Served a little cool, each time of the several times I had it recently was clean-tasting, fresh and relatively light, much more so than it looked, with more than a hint of a flavorful and fairly light, good quality olive oil, likely from nearby Liguria, and topped the egg yolk that provided some added richness and another, complementary flavor. The dish is quite simple to prepare, especially in its most traditional and simplest form. From a recipe from an Italian site, it’s just a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper, the raw egg yolk to crown each serving, and, of course, “the freshest and highest quality beef” ideally minced by hand – this not increasing the complexity but the time and effort. This straightforward preparation is how I had it in Italy, if just with a small amount of additional garnish, always green. Other recipes I came across often included mustard, onions, capers and Worcestershire sauce, with greens popular for presentation.
Carne cruda was served several times during my brief trip to Piedmont, always as part of the antipasti array, as a starter. It was sometimes pre-made in bulk – there were well over a hundred needing to be fed – and served in plastic containers. These worked well, very well, to my taste and were fairly attractive, even in the plastic. It probably didn’t hurt the desirability that I had it solely, or mostly, at Michelin-starred or -recommended restaurants during my recent visit.
But I find it hard to believe that carne cruda will ever get much traction here as appetizer. It’s too bad, though I wouldn’t blame friends and potential guests who might sample the dish in Italy – at a Michelin-starred restaurant – but would hesitate if I served it, even if I told them it was made with beef or veal from Central Market or the like. So, maybe not surprisingly, carne cruda or anything similar was not in the several American editions of pan-Italian cookbooks that I have, which were originally published in Italy. A suitable recipe is easy to find online, though I doubt I will attempt it any time soon. I trust those Michelin-starred restaurants in the Alba and Asti areas much more than I trust myself.
At San Marco in Canelli in Piedmont last week