Veal in tuna sauce is an absolute classic in Italian cooking, and it never fails to please. Here’s the easiest and most fantastic vitello tonnato recipe.
Another absolute classic in Italian cooking that never fails to impress. Even children get carried away long enough to finish what is on their plates. The idea of combining veal with tuna first popped up 150 years ago in Piedmont and Liguria, where tuna fish were caught and preserved. At that time, cooks would pound the fish with lemon juice, olive oil and capers to make a cream sauce. Later some genius decided to add egg yolks (or mayonnaise) which eliminated a lot of the hard work and improved the taste.
This version cheats by using canned tuna and a good ready-made mayonnaise, but it is still delicious and can be served hot or cold as a starter or a main course. For a more elegant antipasti version of vitello tonnato try the Marta Grassi recipe. (And – I know it borders on sacrilege, but – the tuna sauce can also be used to pimp up leftover veal roast or butter beans.)
For the meat
½-1 kg topside or round of veal
2 celery stalks
2 bay leaves
1 tsp pepper corn
For the sauce
2 cans of tuna in olive oil
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 lemon juice
2 tbsp capers
Cover the meat with water and let it boil with cleaned, chopped carrots and celery, a whole peeled onion and herbs for about 1 hour until the meat is tender (it depends on the cut).
Leave the meat to cool in the soup and put it in the freezer for a couple of hours, if you want wafer-thin machine-cut slices.
Don’t throw away the filtered soup – it may be used to water down the tuna sauce or as a base for minestrone.
Blend dried canned tuna with mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil, capers and anchovies.
Add soup from the veal to obtain the right – not too thick – texture.
The sauce should be a little runny to amalgamate with the meat.
Slice the veal as thin as possible.
Arrange the slices of veal in layers and cover each layer with tuna sauce.
Leave the dish in the refrigerator to rest for a couple of hours.
Decorate with slices of lemon and capers and serve vitello tonnato with plenty of nice bread to soak up the sauce in the proper Italian scarpetta-style.