Vitello tonnato


  • Serves 8 - 10 people

Begin this recipe at least a day ahead.

  • To serve: thinly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and trimmed rocket leaves
  • To serve: 2 lemons, segmented
  • Poached veal
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 2 (1.2kg) veal girello (see note)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 3 each cloves and juniper berries
  • 750 ml dry white wine
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine vinegar
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Tuna sauce
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 500 gm canned tuna
  • 1 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed, plus extra to serve
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
01   For poached veal, heat olive oil in a wide casserole over high heat and sear the veal until browned on all sides (3-5 minutes), then remove from the saucepan. Set aside.
02   Add onion, celery, carrot, anchovies and spices to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender (6-8 minutes).
03   Return veal to pan and deglaze the pan with white wine and vinegar. Add the bay leaves and just enough water to cover.
04   Bring to the boil, then simmer over low heat, occasionally turning the veal, until it’s cooked pink (10-15 minutes; it should feel firm but spring back when pressed). Remove the meat from the liquid and set aside to cool to room temperature.
05   Simmer the cooking liquid over high heat until reduced by three-quarters (30-40 minutes), then strain and set liquid aside to cool.
06   For tuna sauce, cook eggs in boiling water until hard-boiled (9 minutes). Cool in cold water, then peel and set aside.
07   Process tuna, capers, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and eggs in a blender until smooth.
08   With the blender running, gradually add enough reduced cooking liquid to the mixture (about 160ml) until it reaches a slightly runny mayonnaise consistency.
09   Slice the veal thinly across the grain and set aside.
10   Spread tuna sauce over a serving plate, arrange a single layer of veal slices on top and spoon more sauce over to cover. Repeat, finishing with a good layer of sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to steep. To serve, bring the vitello tonnato to room temperature, arrange capers, lemon segments, rocket and parmesan shavings on top and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Note Girello, a cut from the hind leg, is also sold as veal nut. It's best when not too young but still very light in the flesh. It may need to be ordered ahead from your butcher.

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