For a dish that's more than 60 years old, beef carpaccio is still in the game. Here, it steps up from appetizer status to no-cook entree for two. It becomes a casual platter, with crunch and color strewn about any way you like it.
While the small hunk of best-quality tenderloin firms in the freezer (which makes it easier to slice thin), you make quick dressings for the meat and for the greens, and prep the radishes and orange. I think pink grapefruit would be a great substitute for the latter. The bread's an integral part of the eating, so tear off a chunk to enjoy with each combined bite.
The only caveat is: Don't plan on leftovers. After several hours, the dressing for the beef will act as a cure and make the texture of the meat a bit mushy.
Beef Carpaccio Salad With Citrus-Chile Dressing
Yield: 2 servings
For the carpaccio and its dressing: One 8-ounce piece beef tenderloin 1/4 jarred preserved lemon 1 large egg yolk 2 tablespoons fresh orange or red grapefruit juice Pinch sugar Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper 3 or 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad and its dressing 2 or 3 radishes 1 large navel orange 1/2 small red chile pepper 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar 1/2 teaspoon honey 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil 2 handfuls mache or baby arugula leaves (may substitute frisee, also called curly endive) Black or roasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
For the carpaccio and its dressing: Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap; place it in the coldest part of the freezer (to firm) for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse the preserved lemon and mince it, transferring it to a small jar as you work. Add the egg yolk, juice, sugar and a small pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the extra-virgin olive oil (to taste) and seal the jar. Shake to form a blended dressing.
While the meat is chilling, prep the salad and its dressing: Trim the radishes (to taste) and cut first into thin rounds, and then into small matchsticks. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Cut off the top and bottom of the orange, then cut down the sides to remove all peel and pith. Holding the orange in your hand, use a serrated knife to cut between the membranes, releasing orange segments into the same bowl. Squeeze a tablespoon of orange juice into the bowl as well.
Seed the chile pepper half, then mince it and add to the bowl, along with the vinegar, honey and toasted sesame oil. Whisk lightly to incorporate.
Unwrap the well-chilled beef. Lay a piece of plastic wrap that's slightly bigger than your serving platter on a work surface.
Use a very sharp knife to cut the meat as thinly as possible, arranging the slices on the plastic wrap (they can overlap). Top the slices with another piece of plastic wrap, then pound the beef even thinner.
Remove the top plastic wrap; in a quick motion, invert the pounded mass of beef carpaccio onto the platter, then remove its remaining plastic wrap. Drizzle with its dressing (in the jar; shake again before pouring, as needed).
Add the arugula leaves to the mixing bowl and toss gently to coat, then distribute the dressed salad on top of the carpaccio. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds; serve right away, eating straight from the platter.
Nutrition information per serving: 440 calories, 27 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 34 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 160 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar.
Source: Adapted from "Citrus: 150 Recipes Celebrating the Sweet and Sour," by Catherine Phipps.