Vitello tonnato, or vitel tonè, despite its French sounding name, is a typical dish of the Piedmont region. Loved by every Italian, and especially appreciated by children, it’s a very tasty entrée, a sure way to impress your guests, and it is surprisingly easy to make, although the preparation is quite lengthy.
This can be shortened by avoiding the marinade, however I feel that it gives the meat incredible tenderness and flavour. Originally the sauce was made by boiling a fresh fillet of albacore tuna in a homemade vegetable stock and herbs, however preparing it with canned tuna gives excellent results.
Although this dish is a typical Italian entrée, it can also be served as a summer main course, accompanied by a green salad seasoned with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
(Veal with tuna sauce)
Ingredients for 6 portions:
- 1 Kg of veal silverside
- 300 gr of tinned tuna (preferably in olive
- oil, but never in brine or spring water)
- 6 anchovy fillets
- 50 gr of capers
- 4 boiled egg yolks
- A bottle of dry white wine of decent quality, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 medium onion
- A bouquet garni (it has to contain at least bay leaves, sage and rosemary)
- 1 tbsp. of white wine vinegar
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsps. of mayonnaise (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Thoroughly wash the vegetables, peel the carrots, then cut them in big chunks and put them in a large bowl together with the veal and the bouquet garni. Cover with the wine, seal the bowl with cling film and put it to marinate in fridge for 12 hours.
2. Once ready, transfer the contents of the bowls in a heavy bottomed, slow-cooking casserole (ideally in cast iron or stoneware), top up with water until the veal is fully covered in liquid. Add some salt. Bring it boil, then lower the heat, cover with a lid and let cook for 1 hour without turning the meat.
3. About 15-20 minutes before the end of cooking, add the whole anchovy fillets. Once the cooking terminated, remove the anchovy fillets and set aside. Let the veal cool down in the juice. Cook the eggs for 6 minutes until hard boiled, then put them in a bowl of icy water to cool down.
4. Drain the tuna, saving the oil in a small container. Place the tuna, the anchovies, the egg yolk and the capers in a food processor. Add 2 tbsps. of the reserved oil, 1 tbsp. of white wine vinegar, a ladleful of the meat juice, and the juice of a lemon. Blend until obtained a smooth cream. If too thick, add some of the meat juice. For a richer and more unctuous sauce, add a couple of tbsps. of mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper if required.
5. Cut the meat in thin slices and arrange them on a platter. Cover them with the sauce and decorate with some capers. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Enjoy with a dry rosè, such as Alezio Rosato, or with a Chardonnay. The veal and the tuna sauce can be stored in the fridge for a max. of three days, in an airtight container.