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Vitello tonnato (Veal with tuna sauce)

Vitello tonnato, served cold in summer and warm in winter, is one of the most classic recipes in Italian cuisine, well-suited to both informal occasions and more special meals.

Chef Danilo Angè

Difficulty: easy

Method: 35

Cooking: 30

Difficulty: easy

Method: 35

Cooking: 30

Rest: 10

Chef Danilo Angè

Difficulty: easy

Method: 35

Cooking: 30

Difficulty: easy

Method: 35

Cooking: 30

Rest: 10

Basic preparations

Vegetable stock

Method

  1. 01 / Prepare the meat

    Remove excess fat

    Season with salt and pepper

    Tie with food twine

  2. 02 / Cook the meat on the hob first

    Put a baking tray, which will ultimately go in the oven, on the hob and add extra virgin olive oil

    Put meat on the tray and brown over high heat

    Turn meat to brown all sides

    Add white wine and let it evaporate

    Add desalinated capers, drained tuna, drained anchovies, and 50 ml vegetable stock and turn off heat

  3. 03 / Put the meat in the oven

    Remove pan from the hob and put it in the oven at 180 °C

    Cook for 30 minutes, adding a little stock if the meat dries out

  4. 04 / Finish preparing the meat

    Remove the baking tray from the oven

    Remove meat from tray and wrap in aluminium foil

    Let rest for 10 minutes

    Remove meat from foil and remove twine

    Cut meat into slices about 3 mm thick

  5. 05 / Prepare the tuna sauce

    Boil eggs, lowering them into a saucepan of water and cooking for 8 minutes after the water comes to a boil

    Stop cooking by immersing eggs in cold water, then peel them

    Blend boiled eggs with tuna, capers, and anchovies in a food processor

    Add a little vegetable stock, just enough for the food processor to run properly

    The sauce should be thick and dense

  6. 06 / To serve

    Put meat on serving dishes

    Accompany with tuna sauce

    Serve with a green salad or another side dish of your choosing if you wish

Wine pairing

You can serve vitello tonnato with a dry white wine of high alcohol content like Chardonnay or with the pleasant effervescence of a brut-style Prosecco Superiore.

If you prefer red wine, respect the regional origins of the traditional recipe by serving it with a good sparkling Barbera del Monferrato.

Basic preparations

Vegetable stock

The meat can be prepared a few hours in advance, letting it rest wrapped in aluminium foil.

The tuna sauce can also be prepared the day before, keeping it covered in the refrigerator.

Do not buy meat with a large amount of connective tissue; get advice from your trusted butcher for any alternative cuts with the right characteristics.

Do not let the meat dry out; be sure the temperature is no higher than indicated and moisten it if necessary about halfway through the cooking time.

Be careful not to prick the meat with a fork or other utensil while cooking so as to avoid the juices escaping.

Do not cut the meat immediately, let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute within the meat so they do not all escape at the first cut, rendering it more tender and succulent.

Do not cut the meat in the wrong direction; to guarantee the tenderness of the slices, the meat should only be cut against the grain.

Do not salt the tuna sauce; the ingredients are already pleasantly savoury. Taste it at the end before adding salt.

Vitello tonnato can be kept in the refrigerator for the next day; in this case, spread the tuna sauce on the meat slices to keep them soft.

You can use the leftover meat without the tuna sauce to prepare Mondeghili meatballs or, if you have more time, meat ravioli. It can also serve as a chicken substitute in the tasty Lombard-style chicken salad.

If you have some tuna sauce left, spread it on slices of toast—delicious!

Vitello tonnato, served cold in summer and warm in winter, is one of the most classic recipes in Italian cuisine, well-suited to both informal occasions and more special meals; in Northern Italy, it is ubiquitous on many families’ Christmas menus.

It can be prepared using different cuts of veal with little connective tissue, such as eye round or bottom sirloin; ask your trusted butcher for advice.

As with most traditional recipes, there are different versions with their own nuances. Our recipe involves browning the meat on the hob and then moving the tray into the oven, serving the meat when it is pink to maximise its tenderness. If you prefer the meat more cooked, you can extend the cooking time by about ten minutes.

Tuna, cooked with meat, capers, and anchovies, acquires a particularly tasty flavour.

You can serve the veal with the sauce distributed in the form of quenelles—or another similar form—for a more refined plating, as we suggest here. In restaurants, the slices of veal are usually completely covered with sauce.

Ingredients for 4 people

800 g veal eye round

100 ml white wine

40 g capers, desalinated

200 g tuna in oil, drained

40 g anchovies in oil, drained

3 eggs

100 ml vegetable stock

Wine pairing

You can serve vitello tonnato with a dry white wine of high alcohol content like Chardonnay or with the pleasant effervescence of a brut-style Prosecco Superiore.

If you prefer red wine, respect the regional origins of the traditional recipe by serving it with a good sparkling Barbera del Monferrato.

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Lombard-style chicken salad

You can depart from tradition and prepare Lombard-style chicken salad with other meats, like leftover veal roast.

“Mondeghili” Milan-style meatballs

What makes “mondeghili”, Milanese meatballs, special is that they can be made using leftover meat like roast, boiled or braised meat, for example.

Meat ravioli in broth
Rolled turkey breast with sausage and mushroom stuffing
Baccalà mantecato (creamed cod) with polenta toasts
Tuna carpaccio with a fennel, orange, and olive salad
Lombard-style chicken salad

You can depart from tradition and prepare Lombard-style chicken salad with other meats, like leftover veal roast.

“Mondeghili” Milan-style meatballs

What makes “mondeghili”, Milanese meatballs, special is that they can be made using leftover meat like roast, boiled or braised meat, for example.

Meat ravioli in broth
Rolled turkey breast with sausage and mushroom stuffing
Baccalà mantecato (creamed cod) with polenta toasts
Tuna carpaccio with a fennel, orange, and olive salad
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