These delicate, crispy sandwiches of veal tartare from Marianna Vitale make an excellent starter, as the creamy meat mix is punctuated with the sweet figs and crunch of the hazelnuts, and the anchovy butter adds a salty accompaniment.

Veal tartare with figs, hazelnuts and anchovy butter:

Chef: Marianna Vitale

Cooking time: 1 hour, plus 2 hours freezing time

Serves: 4

Course: Starter

Skill level: Easy

Ingredients:

For the veal tartare:

  • 280g of veal tenderloin
  • 10g spring onion, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 10g mayonnaise
  • 10g mustard
  • 20g dried figs
  • 20g toasted hazelnuts

For the anchovy butter:

  • 20g anchovies in oil (from Cetara)
  • 50g of butter
  • 10g cream

To serve:

  • 250g of bread, from a rustic loaf or Italian peasant bread “pane Cafone”
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Edible shoots and flowers
  • Star anise (optional)
  • Cocoa beans (optional)

Method:

  1. Start by removing the crusts from the loaf of bread so you have a solid block. Place in a sealed container and freeze for about 2 hours (this will help you to cut very thin slices to sandwich the tartare)
  2. To make the tartare, finely dice the veal and place in a mixing bowl with the chopped spring onions, mayonnaise and mustard. Roughly chop the dried figs and the toasted hazelnuts and add these to the bowl, gently mixing everything until combined
  3. For the anchovy butter, drain the anchovies from the oil and place in a blender with the butter. Blitz until smooth, then fold in the cream and set aside until ready to serve
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
  5. When the bread is nearly frozen but still soft enough to slice, cut with a breadknife into very thin slices, about 2mm thick. Using a 5cm cutter, cut out round discs from the bread; you will need about 16 total, but it’s good to have some spare
  6. Place on a tray lined with baking paper then brush with a little olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown
  7. To serve, place a large spoonful of the tartare onto one of the bread discs and place sandwich with another disc on top. Repeat to make 8 sandwiches
  8. Spread some of the anchovy butter onto each serving plate and top with the tartare sandwiches and some edible shoots and flowers.
  9. For an added flourish, grate a little star anise and cocoa bean over the the plate

The wine

This polished veal tartare recipe from Marianna Vitale is a variation on Vitello Tonnato, a recipe Decanter published from Michel Roux Jr. For that dish, sommelier Xavier Rousset MS recommended light reds and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, which would all work splendidly well here, too.

But, as this is a traditional, northern Italian recipe, Decanter recommends sticking to the white wines from the same area of the world – if in doubt, a great food matching rule is that wines from the region habitually match food and cooking from the same region. Gavi di Gavi and Arneis from Piedmont, Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige, Ribolla Gialla from Friuli and Vermentino would all be wonderful accompaniments – Harry Fawkes, Decanter.com

Recipe courtesy of Marianna Vitale. Launching soon Great Italian Chefs showcases the best culinary talent that Italy has to offer. Visit Great Italian Chefs for more recipes and features for Italy’s most exciting chefs.