Carne Cruda is a delicious and decadent restaurant quality Italian beef appetizer. Like Steak Tartare this dish revolves around raw beef.
Here the beef is chopped finely and lightly ‘cooked’ with lemon juice. Then it is dressed with herbs and extra virgin olive oil and served with crisp ciabatta slices.
This Carne Cruda makes a small amount of expensive beef go a long way and can be served as part of a charcuterie board or as an appetizer.
I live in a world where there are only two ways of cooking beef. Either barely cooked; black and blue steak is my utter favorite way to enjoy steak. Or long slow cooking so the beef is fork tender and literally melts in the mouth. Anything in-between upsets me. Overcooked steak has been my restaurant nemesis for years but I have a few favorite places who can cook a perfect steak. And luckily the long slow cooking of beef has come back into favor and you find the meltingly tender beef recipes making a regular appearance.
This Italian Carne Cruda falls into the barely cooked/raw category. If you have ever seen steak tartare on the menu of a French restaurant well this Carne Cruda is the Italian version.
If you want to read more about my introduction to this wonderful Italian appetizer then it is just below but you can jump straight to the Carne Cruda recipe by hit the circular purple steaming pot over to the left on desktop or at the top on mobile this will jump you straight past the information so you can scan the recipe first.
I want to set a little scene for you, just to get you in the mood for a bit of Italian food loving ?
It is a rainy cold night in December, we have friends for dinner, we are starting with a roast pear, radicchio, and blue cheese salad, there is a mushroom and chicken lasagne about to go in the oven along with garlic dough balls and the cherry semifreddo is in the freezer. I have a glass of prosecco and am laughing with friends. All good. And then the power goes out! Which for a dinner based around the oven is a major blow. So we do the only sane thing we can do, down our drinks and head into town to find somewhere to eat.
It is Saturday night, getting a table for 4 this close to Christmas isn’t an easy task! After several restaurants turn us away we are actually contemplate getting take away pizza when we see our local Italian Deli (Cucina di Nonna) is still open, what’s more, we see 4 people putting coats on and leaving.
Thanking God for extended Christmas opening hours we run in, park ourselves on the still warm sofa, strip off our wet coats, hats and scarves and scan the menu. It is a small platter, cafe food menu, we are hungry, the fire is roaring and we have ordered a bottle of red wine.
So we go about ordering pretty much everything on the menu, seriously everything! We have arancini balls, baked artichoke, rocket and parmesan salad, grissini with tapenade dip, fried crispy prawns, burrata with anchovy oil, baked olives, a mixed meat platter and plenty of sliced ciabatta. We were hungry!!!!!
It arrived as and when it was prepared and we ate for about 2 hours! Plenty of red wine was drunk and we had an amazing evening. Every plate of food was delicious, but the highlight for me was the mixed meat platter. I love cured meats, so a platter loaded with prosciutto, soppressata and bresaola is my perfect antipasto. But this platter had something more, as well as the cured meats it had a small dish of Carne Cruda.
The Carne Cruda was scrumptious! It was tender, flavourful and decadent.
So good that whenever anyone else spread a bit on their crispy ciabatta I had to stop myself shooting them filthy looks!!! ?
There is just something amazing that happens when beef is mixed with some grassy olive oil, something salty and dressed with lemon.
Learn how to make this delicious Italian Appetizer below!
So it is raw meat?
Yes and no. It isn’t truly raw as the lemon starts to ‘cook’ the meat and the color and texture will change. Even if you think that you don’t like raw meat, this recipe is definitely worth trying. The tender beef is delicious!
What is the difference between Italian Steak Tartare (Carne Cruda) and carpaccio?
Italian Steak Tartare/Carne Cruda is finely chopped raw beef often pressed into a round mold, whereas carpaccio is wafer-thin slices of raw beef.
Both are delicious, you can see my recipe for beef carpaccio here.
Is Steak Tartare French?
Yes, Steak Tartare is a French appetizer that is served with various garnishes that add fat, acidity and salt to the meat. The French steak tartare is often topped with an egg yolk.
This version of Steak Tartare is Italian, and the name Carne Cruda is Italian for raw meat. Whereas the French version has cornichon, egg, and mustard in it. This Carne Cruda uses extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and anchovies to add the fat, vinegar and salt flavors.
Shush!!! Don’t mention the anchovies! They don’t add a fishy grossness to the dish, they add a wonderful savory salty hit. I promise they are delicious! I promise! These are the exact words I say to my kids whenever I add anchovies to any dish. Well, I say them to Mr 11, I am still hiding their existence from Mr 8 (who is my pickier child). Feel free to hide the fact this contains anchovies from your family too. (I won’t judge, we do what we do to make life easy and tasty 😉 )
But if the anchovies are an immovable hurdle then you can leave them out but please please please add more salt when you season the dish.
What cut of beef is used for Italian Steak Tartare (Carne Cruda)?
You want to use a lean tender cut of beef for this Carne Cruda.
Tenderloin or filet mignon is the most expensive choice and will give you AMAZING results. The recipe uses just 8oz/250g so you can make your expensive cut of meat go along way.
However for a cheaper alternative try using round steak, they are significantly lower in price and as long as they are finely chopped they give you the same delicious melt in the mouth texture.
The key if using round steak for your Carne Cruda is it needs to be a finer chop than a beef filet version.
How to cut the beef for Italian Steak Tartare
Start by putting the steak in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, this firms up the meat and makes it much easier to cut. Then cut the beef into long thin strips against the grain and cut these strips into smaller cubes.
I buy the meat the day I wish to eat it, get it home, place it in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to make it easier to slice, then chop it ready for the dish, keep it, covered and undressed, in the fridge until I am ready to eat.
I also always chop this by hand. The food processor gives you more of a minced texture and one of the beautiful parts of this dish is the texture.
Is Steak Tartare/Carne Cruda safe?
I know that people get worried about eating raw beef, but as long as you buy your beef from a reputable source you should have no issues. Ensure you buy the freshest meat you can.
Avoid beef that is pre-wrapped in cellophane and instead go to your local butcher or butcher counter in the grocery store and ask for the freshest beef they have. Tell him (or her!) that you are serving it tartare style. He loves meat, he will love that you are trying tartare and will give you something fabulous!
How to Serve Carne Cruda
Serve Carne Cruda up with some crisp slices of ciabatta and watch it vanish. Honestly even people who screw their nose up at raw meat demolish this dish.
You can serve it in small bowls as an individual starter, or dish up a larger bowl for a sharing platter. Your guests will love it. And a little goes a long way. A 9oz/250g steak will serve 4 people as a starter or 6-8 if served as part of an antipasto platter.
What to drink with Carne Cruda?
Carna Cruda is a tough one to pair wine with, the beef suggests a red, but the acidity of the lemon and salt of the anchovy can get lost when you had a bold heavy read.
For those wanting a red, I would go for a Dolcetto or a light pinot noir.
For white wine drinkers, a crisp sauvignon blanc will balance well with all the flavors.
But my personal choice though would be a prosecco or better yet a sparkling rose.
For more delicious Italian recipes check out these:
- Prosciutto and Ricotta Hors d’oeuvres
- Arancini Balls (RecipeTin Eats)
- Blue Cheese and Cherry Bruschetta
- Pasta with Chicken Broth
- Garlic Chicken Pasta
- Black Truffle Pasta
- Seared Salmon and Lemon Risotto
- Pizza Dough
- Cheese Stuffed Baked Peppers (An Italian in my Kitchen)
- Salted Caramel Panna Cotta
- Individual Tiramisu
- Classic Campari Cocktail (Inside the Rustic Kitchen)
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Carne Cruda Appetizer – Italian Steak Tartare
- 9 oz beef fillet (see note 1)
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 anchovy fillets
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 ciabatta loaf (to serve)
- As soon as you get the meat home, remove it from the plastic/paper, trim it of any fat/sinew and then place in the freezer for 30-45 minutes.
- Remove from the freezer and chop into long slices against the grain, cut these steps into long thin strips. Rotate the strips and cut into small cubes. Place the meat in a non-metalic bowl, cover and leave in the coldest part of the fridge until you are ready to serve.
- Squeeze the juice of the lemons into a jug and add in the olive oil.
- Finely chop and squash the anchovy fillet against the chopping board until you have rough anchovy paste.
- Mix this into the lemon oil mixture.
- Season generously with salt and pepper and mix well.
- When you are ready to serve, pour the lemon mixture over the meat and leave it to sit for 5 minutes.
- Whilst the meat is marinating, thinly slice the ciabatta and crisp lightly under a hot grill.
- Just before you serve it, stir the parsley through the beef.
- Serve the beef with the crisp toasts.
- You can use a lean cut of round steak as an inexpensive alternative. Just cut the steak slightly finer.