Fritto Misto alla Piemontese (Fried Steak, Mushrooms, and Zucchini)

Fried steak is a typical dish from the Italian region of Piemonte. Morsels of beef are breaded with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, and then deep fried until golden brown and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy medium rare on the inside. I enjoyed it at Combal.Zero years ago and more recently at La Coccinella. At La Coccinella the dish also included strips of zucchini and fresh porcini mushrooms prepared in the same way.

In classic Italian preparations the beef is deep fried when it is still raw, but precooking the beef sous vide has some advantages. By chilling the beef after sous vide cooking and then deep frying, the correct doneness of the beef is assured. The deep frying only serves to create the crispy outside and to bring the inside to serving temperature. When deep frying raw beef, it is more difficult to avoid undercooking or overcooking the beef at the same time as achieving a crispy golden brown crust. Another advantage is that the beef will already release the juices that will be released in any case by cooking the beef, which means that less juices will be escaping during and after frying the beef, thus keeping the crust more crispy. And finally, including some fresh rosemary in the pouch adds a very nice touch of rosemary to the beef.

Unfortunately good quality fresh porcini mushrooms are very difficult to source here, so I used king oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus eryngii) instead.

The cut of beef used for this in Italy is called scamone, which is the equivalent of baby top or rump steak. You could also use a tougher cut like flank steak, but then a longer sous vide cooking time would be required to tenderize the beef.

Ingredients

Serves 4

500 grams (1.1 lbs) tender beef;

1 zucchini

4 fresh porcini mushrooms (or king oyster mushrooms)

2 eggs, beaten

flour

breadcrumbs

salt and fresly ground black pepper

fresh rosemary

Instructions

Slice the beef in steaks of about 2.5 centimeters/1 inch thick and then in long strips of the same width. Season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides.

Vacuum seal the beef with fresh rosemary sprigs, spreading out the rosemary such that all sides are covered.

Cook the beef sous vide for at least 2 hours at 55C/131F. A longer cooking time may be needed depending on the tenderness of the beef.

After sous vide cooking, chill the beef in cold water (with ice). Take it out of the bag and discard the rosemary.

Set up a breading line. First dust each piece of beef in flour, making sure it is completely covered and shaking off any excess. Then dip the floured beef in beaten egg. Finally, cover the beef with bread crumbs, again making sure it is completely covered and shaking off excess.

Repeat this with the other pieces of beef. Cut the mushrooms and zucchini into large chunks, and bread them in the same way as the beef.

Heat a large amount of vegetable oil with a high smoking point (such as peanut oil) to 180C/350F. I used 5 litres/5 quarters in a wok. The larger the amount of oil, the more items you can deep fry at the same time without cooling off the oil too much. By keeping the oil near to 180C/350F the beef, mushrooms, and zucchini will be fried perfectly without soaking up oil.

Slice the strips of beef into chunks, showing the medium rare interior.

Season everything with salt and serve at once.

Wine pairing

This is nice with a Langhe Nebbiolo, Barbaresco, Roero, or elegant Barolo.

Flashback

One of the most original and best new dishes I’ve had in a Michelin starred restaurant over the last years was “Raw carabinero prawn on crispy strands of short rib (‘pulled’ short ribs, then deep fried) with roasted bell pepper, ginger, water melon, and X.O. cream”. My version is not as good as at the restaurant, but quite good indeed.

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