Carpaccio of beef with figs and garlic oil

Carpaccio with figsCarpaccio was invented, so I understand, by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1950 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. It was named after the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio who was noted for his use of red in his paintings. Thin sliced raw beef was served with a cold vinaigrette made with olive oil and it was generally served on a bed of salad such as watercress, endive or radicchio.

The term Carpaccio usually refers to very thinly cut slices of raw beef but nowadays the term is applied to everything from tuna to fruit However, here we’ve stayed with the original.

Don’t be put off by the idea of raw beef. There’s no blood, it can be supremely tender and the flavour takes some beating. But it’s important that you get the best beef you can. Eating beef raw is completely safe. However, searing the outside of the meat before flattening it out ensures any surface bacteria are killed.

Serves two as a starter, light supper or lunch dish.

175g of best fillet of beef
75g wild mushrooms
Two figs – quartered
Five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
A handful of fresh basil – torn
One red chilli – halved and deseeded
A handful of wild rocket
One clove of garlic – crushed
Four cherry tomatoes – halved
A knob of butter

Pre-heat a frying pan until smoking and add one teaspoon of olive oil. Seal the fillet of beef for no more than a couple of minutes, turning constantly. Remove the meat from the pan and allow to rest.

Add the wild mushrooms to the pan, along with the knob of butter, and gently sauté for two to three minutes.

Place the remaining olive oil, garlic and one half of the chilli in a blender and blitz until smooth. Finely dice the other half of the chilli and add it to the olive oil mix along with the torn basil.

Slice the beef as thinly as possible and “spread” each slice with a knife to make it even thinner, then pile in the centre of serving dishes.

Place the rocket on top, arrange the figs, mushrooms and tomatoes around then dribble the blended olive oil dressing over the top and around.


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