At Ristorante Trippi in Valtellina I enjoyed veal tartare with hazelnuts. Although this was in Lombardia, it is close to Piemonte were carne cruda is a very typical dish. This version with ground hazelnuts mixed through the meat was very delicious, so I wanted to make it at home.
During the same trip we had dinner at Piazza Duomo*** in Alba, where the chef Enrico Crippa gifted all the guests with a small bottle of local hazelnut oil. Piemonte is famous for its carne cruda from Fassone veal/beef and for its hazelnuts, so this made it even more attractive to prepare this dish. Carne cruda is usually mixed with olive oil, but I decided to use Crippa’s hazelnut oil instead. The result was fantastic.
Fassone veal (or any veal) may be difficult to find, but this will also be great when prepared with beef tenderloin.
For 4 servings as an appetizer
300 grams (.66 lb) veal or beef tenderloin
40 grams (4 Tbsp) skinned toasted hazelnuts
30 ml (2 Tbsp) hazelnut oil
1/2 tsp mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp ricotta
4 thin slices of white Italian bread
Brush the thin slices of bread with olive oil and toast them in the oven at 180C/350F until slightly golden and crispy. Toast the hazelnuts for 8 minutes in the same oven and allow to cool.
Carne cruda should be chopped by hand with a sharp knife.
Grind half of the hazelnuts in the food processor into a coarse powder. Spread out the the chopped meat in a thin layer. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then sprinkle with the ground hazelnuts. Finally, spread half a teaspoon of mustard on top of the meat.
Put the meat in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of hazelnut oil and stir to mix. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Take the meat out of the refrigerator about half an hour before serving (depending on ambient temperature), because the meat should be served cool but not cold.
Use a food ring to serve the meat attractively.
Coarsely chop the remaining hazelnuts.
Garnish each portion with 1/2 tablespoon of ricotta, 1/2 tablespoon of coarsely chopped hazelnuts, and the toasted bread. Drizzle with the remaining hazelnut oil.
This calls for either an Italian white wine with nutty aromas such as a Verdicchio aged in oak, or a light red wine like a Dolcetto from Dogliani.