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When I utter the word veal, I see my US and UK friends' and clients' faces twitch just a bit. Even the hardened carnivores find it sometimes hard to stomach.
Foreigners associate veal with the horrid, inhumane treatment and cruelty perpetrated on young male calves. While in Italy, veal is a very common staple meat product, almost more so than beef.
This typical fall/winter Piemontese recipe, which comes specifically from Alba – land of prized red wine and exquisite white truffles – is designed to be made with veal. If you absolutely cannot stand the idea of veal, you can make this very easy and simple tartare with beef.
400 g (14 oz) veal breast or beef tenderloin (have the butcher carve the meat wafer thin)
1 garlic clove, peeled
The juice of 1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
White truffle (optional), shaved
Finely chop the meat with a very sharp knife. Do this shortly before serving the meat.
Season with with salt and cracked black pepper.
Dress with a thread of olive oil, and some freshly squeezed lemon juice
Using the tines of a fork, pierce the clove of garlic and use that to toss the seasoned meat.
If you're lucky enough to have some white truffle standing by, shave some on top.
Serve quickly before the lemon marinades and "cooks" the meat.
Good with warm toasted bread, a crisp arugula salad, and a waterfall of fruit-forward red wine.