I was introduced to carpaccio about a year ago while doing prep work in a commercial kitchen. At the time, we used beef eye of round from steamship rounds we butchered in house. This is an exceptional cut for carpaccio, but in the back of my mind I had a feeling that venison loin would be even better. It turns out I was right.
Carpaccio first arrived on the culinary scene in 1950, dreamt up by Italian restaurateur Giuseppe Cipriani. Cipriani was the owner and founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, a one-time haunt of Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles and Truman Capote, just to name a few.
The dish is deceptively simple: thinly sliced raw meat (usually red meat, sometimes fish) carefully arranged on a plate with a dressing of mayonnaise-based sauce painted across the surface. In its best incarnation, though, carpaccio incorporates other elements in addition to the sauce – capers, olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, a side of arugula salad and some thinly sliced parmesan cheese.
Carpaccio is a great way to make use of your venison loin, and it gives the hunter a rare opportunity to taste game meat in its most natural form – completely raw. Serve alongside some crusty French bread with a good pilsner or witbier.
- One 12 ounce cut of cleaned and trimmed venison loin
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 tbsp capers
- 2 lemons
- 1 wedge of parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- olive oil
- coarse ground sea salt
- fresh-cracked pepper
- The first step to proper carpaccio preparation begins on the butcher block; once you’ve removed the loins from the animal, set aside a 12-ounce portion, trim it meticulously, taking care to remove every trace of silver skin and sinew, then wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. If you intend to freeze it for a long period of time, use freezer paper, if not, plain plastic wrap is fine. Note: Do not use a vacuum sealer when freezing loin for carpaccio, as you want the loin to retain its somewhat cylindrical shape.
- Once completely frozen, remove the loin from the freezer. If you have access to a meat slicer, go ahead and begin slicing the meat while it’s still frozen, using the thinnest setting you can manage. If not, let the meat thaw just enough so that you can successfully slice it with a chef’s knife, cutting as thinly as possible. If free-handing the cuts, you may want to lightly pound them with a meat mallet, rendering them thinner yet. If you do this, make sure to place the cuts between two layers of plastic wrap prior to pounding and tap with the mallet very lightly, otherwise the thin slices could disintegrate under its impact.
- Arrange the cuts on a serving plate until they take on the shape of the plate itself. This recipe calls for enough ingredients to make four equal servings, so adjust accordingly if serving more or less.
- Apply a pinch of coarse sea salt then set it aside as the meat continues to thaw. Once completely thawed, add the sauce. Use a simple mix of three parts Duke’s mayo, one part Dijon mustard. Mix the sauce with a whisk then funnel it into a squeeze bottle and apply it in a zig-zag pattern across the entire surface of the carpaccio. Now sprinkle on the capers, using 1 tablespoon per serving.
- Mix your salad of arugula, halved cherry tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Each serving should get about a cup of salad, mounded up in the middle of the carpaccio but not completely covering the dish.
- Using a cheese slicer, cut thin ribbons of parmesan and add the cheese to the dish per your personal preference. Squeeze the juice of one halved lemon onto the carpaccio for brightness. Grind some more black pepper on top, serve, and enjoy!
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