Beef “Carne Cruda” Fried Caper Leaves and Fontina


  • ¾ cup caper leaves, divided use
  • Brine, recipe follows
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Sparkling water, as needed
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¾ pound beef tenderloin, finely chopped
  • 2½ tablespoons cornichon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons yellow onion, minced
  • 1/8 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 6 slices country bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 block aged fontina


Soak caper leaves in brine 24 hours; rinse and dry.

Combine cornstarch, flour, 1½ teaspoons salt, baking soda, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Whisk in sparkling water to form a batter, about 2/3 cup. Coat caper leaves in batter except 2 teaspoons. Fry in 350 F oil until golden brown.

Blend together egg yolk, mustard and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Drizzle in about ½ cup of oil to make mayonnaise. Stir in vinegar and remaining ¼ cup oil; set aside.

Mix the beef in a chilled bowl with mayonnaise to generously coat. Mince remaining 2 teaspoons caper leaves and add to beef with cornichon, onion and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Brush olive oil evenly on each slice of bread and grill both sides. Rub one side of each piece with garlic, place a slice of fontina on top and let melt.

Shape carne cruda into quenelles. Garnish with fried caper leaves and shavings of cheese. Serve bread on the side. Makes 2 servings.

To make brine: Bring ½ cup water, ½ cup sherry vinegar, ½ tablespoon sugar and ¼ tablespoon salt to a boil. Remove from heat; cool.

Executive Chef Matthew Accarrino; SPQR; San Francisco