Carpaccio of beef with Jerusalem artichokes and cobnuts

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Carpaccio of beef, when done well, makes a sensual and elegant first course. It consists of not much more than thinly sliced and gently pounded beef, attentively seasoned. It's best paired with flavours that are low key and restrained. Here I have paired it with crystally, salty Parmesan, nutty sweet Jerusalem artichokes and young sweet cobnuts.

500g/1lb of the best quality fillet of English beef
8 Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed clean but left unpeeled
20 cobnuts, shelled
100g/3oz Parmesan cheese
The juice and zest of one unwaxed lemon
40ml/2fl oz extra-virgin olive oil, plus a couple of tablespoons to drizzle
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parchment paper

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6.

Start by trimming every bit of surface discolouration, fat and sinew off the meat. Place the meat in the freezer for around 15 minutes to firm it up, making it easier to cut into thin slices. Cut 8 sheets of parchment paper into 30cm (12in) squares. Slice the meat using your sharpest knife into slices roughly a quarter-inch thick. Lay the meat between two sheets of parchment paper and using a rolling pin, pound the meat evenly, working outward from the centre as you go. Do not be too aggressive as you will tear the meat's fibres and ruin its quality. When you are finished, the sheets of carpaccio should be about twice as big as the original slice of meat. Continue with all the slices of meat in the same manner. Refrigerate promptly.

Slice the Jerusalem artichokes finely lengthwise. Lay the shelled cobnuts on a baking sheet and roast in the hot oven for 6 to 8 minutes to tickle out their flavour and turn them a lovely golden brown.

Slice the Parmesan into long, fine slices – I do this with a Y-shaped peeler. Place the artichokes, Parmesan and cobnuts in a bowl, dress with the oil and lemon and season generously with the salt and pepper.

Remove the carpaccio from the fridge and carefully peel off one sheet of parchment from each package, lay its exposed meat side down on to a cold plate. Press to smooth, then carefully peel away the second sheet. Allow two to three slices per plate. Season the meat thoughtfully with a little salt and pepper, spoon over the remaining olive oil and arrange the dressed salad alongside the carpaccio. Serve immediately.

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