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A healthy(ish) dish

The problem I have with diets is that I follow them, but they don’t follow me back. So then I have to unfollow them as it’s important to maintain a good following to followers ratio.

Fortunately this week’s dish is, compared to pasta, pretty healthy. We’re doing beef carpaccio with ‘bagna cauda’, radish, and capers.

This combines two quintessentially Italian dishes (bagna cauda and carpaccio) and is a great one for warmer months. Whenever they decide to grace us with their presence.

This week’s album: 
Berlin Calling by Paul Kalkbrenner

This album soundtracks a movie about German electronic music in which Paul Kalkbrenner stars as a DJ. I’ve never watched the movie, apparently he does a decent job as an actor, but I really enjoy the music. Tracks ‘Aaron’ and ‘Sky and Sand’ are particular favourites.

A tale of two dishes

Dating back to the 16th century, bagna cauda (literally meaning hot bath) is a sort of dip from Piemonte in the north of Italy. It’s made with a lot of garlic and anchovies, and is usually served in a dish kept warm by a candle (think fondue vibes) with raw and cooked vegetables.

Traditionally they used hazelnut oil to create a liquid-y consistency (hazelnuts are abundant in Piemonte), but we’ll use extra-virgin olive oil as the olive flavour pairs better with the beef while still standing up to the powerful garlic and anchovy.

Unlike bagna cauda, carpaccio is a relatively recent creation. Based on another dish called ‘carne cruda all’albese’, carpaccio was created by Giuseppe Cipriani (the same guy who invented the peach Bellini) of the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice.

Why link bagna cauda and carpaccio?

I’m a big fan of pairing anchovies with meat, and think the sauce ‘lifts’ the beef to make it really exciting to eat.

We’re staying pretty true to the traditional method of preparing the carpaccio, but slightly changing the preparation of the bagna cauda. Usually it’s a liquid and rustic sauce, but we’ll opt for a consistency closer to a mayonnaise.

We’ll also cook the garlic in milk a couple of times to reduce the harshness. This means it won’t overpower the beef or leave an unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth.

Final note: as you’re not cooking the beef it’s important to get the best quality you can. Try your local butcher rather than the supermarket stuff (supermarkets vac-pack it which causes the meat to sweat). You want well-aged beef as this allows for maximum flavour development.

It may not look like much, but this is Harry's Bar in Venice. A place famous for hosting writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and Fraser Bashford.

What you need

The below serves 2. It takes 15 mins to prep, then 20 mins to cook.

5 garlic cloves (peeled & green germ removed)
200ml milk
6 anchovy fillets
(best quality)
20g softened butter
80ml extra-virgin olive oil
½ slice stale white bread
(torn into pieces)
¼ lemon (juice only)
200g beef fillet (best quality)
2 tbsps capers (roughly chopped)
3 radishes (thinly sliced)
Small bunch watercress
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. We’ll start with the bagna cauda... Add the garlic to a small pan and cover with half the milk and about 100ml of water. Place on a low heat and simmer for 10 mins.

2. Drain the garlic and cover with the remaining milk (but no water this time). Simmer for another 10 mins, then transfer the milk and garlic to a food processor (or jug suitable for using a stick blender). Leave to cool for 5 mins, then add the anchovy, olive oil, butter, bread, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth and transfer to fridge to firm up.

NOTE: if the mixture doesn't emulsify, add a drop more cold milk (a little at a time) and blend until it does.

3. Now for the carpaccio… Using a very sharp knife, slice the beef as thinly as possible and lay on a sheet of baking parchment (leaving a gap between each piece). Once done, add another sheet of baking parchment over the top and use a rolling pin to gently flatten out the slices.

NOTE: how thin you make the slices is a matter of personal preference. I don’t go too thin as some texture and thickness enhances the dish and allows you to really taste the beef.

4. Transfer your beef slices to a plate, laying them out flat. Season with a little salt and pepper, then drizzle over a little extra-virgin olive oil and rub it into each slice. Top with a generous amount of the bagna cauda. Scatter over the chopped capers, sliced radishes, and watercress. Dive in.
Final thought

You'll make more bagna cauda than you need (anything less would be too tricky to blend). To avoid it going to waste, loosen the mixture with a little water and use it in place of Caesar dressing on your next salad.

Same time next week,


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Tag your dishes with #eatmywordslondon, or hit reply to this email with a photo.


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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