I'll throw myself under the bus here for a second, but I think that sometimes I(we) overcomplicate so many recipes. At least to me, the allure of a recipe is how complex it is to make and there's a really great feeling of satisfaction when everything is complete. But I often forget how simple dishes are honestly some of the most impressive. Generally speaking, in much of the Mediterranean, you'll find that recipes are simple and include no more than a few basic ingredients. These are fresh dishes and let the main ingredient speak for themselves. The way that it should be and the way that a lot of food is meant to be enjoyed, especially wild game.
So, this week I've decided to make one of my favorite Italian appetizers, Carpaccio, using venison tenderloin. Originating from Piedmont, Carpaccio in it's traditional form uses a raw beef filet and is then finished with olive oil and lemon juice. From start to finish, this recipe can be made in less than 20 minutes and is as impressive looking as it is delicious.
1 venison tenderloin or backstrap
Fresh cracked pepper
Thyme, fresh or dried
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Arugula or Kale
There's really not much to this recipe other than placing your tenderloin on a board and
rolling it in salt, pepper and thyme, just enough to coat all sides. Once the meat is well seasoned, heat a skillet on high and add about one tablespoon of olive oil. When the pan begins to lightly smoke, place the tenderloin in. Essentially, all that you're doing is getting a nice crust on the outside, while keeping the inside raw. With that said, it's important to keep the pan as hot as possible and make sure that all sides get color quickly.
Once the entire piece of meat is nicely colored, which probably will take less than 2 minutes total, place onto a cutting board and let rest. Remember, Carpaccio is a cold dish, so let it rest until it's cool to slice. While the meat rests, use this time to make a small salad to go on top. Again, simple and rustic is the key here. A couple of handfuls of baby arugula or kale, some salt, fresh cracked pepper, lemon juice and good olive oil. Toss until everything is coated and well seasoned.
When the meat is cool(can also be made ahead and kept cold in the refrigerator), slice thinly, but NOT paper thin! They key to a good Carpaccio are thin pieces of meat, but not so thin that you could see through each of them. Again, it's a rustic dish, so nothing needs to be exact here, but if I was guessing, I'd say that the slices should be 2/8 of an inch or there about. Once sliced take the back of your knife and gently press down to thin out each piece.
To assemble, place each piece of Carpaccio on a plate, slightly overlapping. Place the salad in the middle of the meat and finish by drizzling some good olive oil and lemon juice over everything. Simple, rustic & classic Italian.