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Best Vitello Tonnato Recipes

Best Vitello Tonnato Recipes


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What is Vitello Tonnato ?

So.... the person who invented this had this brilliant idea. It went something like this... I have just cooked some veal.... let it go cold...now... what shall I cover it in? I know, let's mix up some mayonnaise, add some tuna and lemon juice, tip it all over the veal and see what it tastes like!! Sounds revolting, eh?


Crispy Pork Cutlets with Tonnato Sauce from Chef Daisy Ryan

Chef Daisy Ryan and Husband Greg, Co-Owners of Bell’s in Los Alamos CA.

I was tempted to call this Maiale all Milanese Tonnato. Or Tonkatsu Tonnato.

This creamy-rich tonnato sauce, flavored with premium tuna filets, creates a wonderful balance to its richness with fresh lemon and pickled caperberries. The luxurious sauce instantly elevates the dish with a perfect contrast to the crispy cutlets. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love fried anything? The recipe is from Chef Daisy Ryan, who has the distinction of being named 2020’s Best New Chef by Food and Wine magazine. Chef Ryan presides over the kitchen at Bell’s, a bistro located in Los Alamos, 140 miles north of Los Angeles. So surprised at her win, she reportedly asked if the magazine had the right person. But by all accounts, she is wildly deserving. At the restaurant which she runs with her husband, Greg, the food is French-inspired but not French. Chef Ryan calls it “Franch”. It’s in ranch country ergo French plus Ranch: Franch. It’s clear from today’s recipe that cultural mash-ups are a Daisy Ryan specialty.

Vitello Tonnato, the Italian Original.

Calling this Maiale Alla Milanese Tonnato in honor of the sauce’s Italian origins would not be out of line.

A Piedmontese dish, Vitello Tonnato, consists of cold, sliced veal covered with a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce flavored with tuna. It’s associated with summertime as it is served chilled of at room temperature. It is a main course or, as Marcella decreed “an exceedingly elegant antipasto for an elaborate dinner”. It’s also wildly popular in Argentina with its enormous Italian population. There it is considered a traditional Christmas dish. After today’s recipe, we’ve included a link to another Tonnato recipe you may enjoy—using chicken in lieu of veal.

The original Pork Tonkatsu.

Or we could call this Tonkatsu Tonnato…

Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish that is made up of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. It’s prepared exactly the way Chef Ryan prepares her cutlet. The word Tonkatsu is a combination of the Japanese word “ton” meaning “pig” and katsu, a shortened form of katsuretsu which translates into “cutlet’ in English. “Cutlet” was derived from the French “côtellette” meaning “meat chop” thereby proving that “the world is a circle that’s perfectly round”. Tonkatsu is a relatively new Japanese dish. It was invented in the 19 th Century and was usually made with beef. The pork version first appeared in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei. It was considered to be a type of “yōshoku”—Japanese versions of European cuisine invented in the 19 th and early 20 th centuries. “Tonkatsu” goes a long way to proving that “the world is a circle that’s perfectly round”. Here’s this fantastic recipe – perfect for a weeknight. And below it, another take on Tonnato.

Crispy Pork Cutlets with Tonnato Sauce

Creamy and rich tonnato sauce, thickened and flavored with high-quality tuna, surrounds a crispy pork cutlet for an out-of-this-world weeknight dinner.


Strangers on a Plate: Vitello Tonnato

“Vitello tonnato is simple,” Gherardo Guarducci was saying, talking over a mobile phone in his fast, Italian-flecked English from the dining room of Casa Lever, the elegant Manhattan restaurant of which he is an owner. The dish combines cold veal with a thick, creamy sauce flavored with canned or jarred tuna to make a meal of outrageous textural excellence, equally appropriate at summer business lunches and weekend dinners on the fire escape. “You make veal, you make a tuna sauce.”

All else is argument. (Tuna versus veal!)

Some braise the meat to start, while others roast it. Some use egg yolks to help emulsify the tuna sauce some count on the fat of the veal to create that unctuousness and structure. Some marinate the meat in the tuna sauce for hours, others for days, before the dish is served. One classic presentation has the meat fanned out in a circle on a platter, with the sauce in the middle. Another calls for the meat to be slathered in the sauce and served almost in a heap.

Once in a restaurant, I was served braised tuna with a veal sauce.

“Not here!” Guarducci exclaimed, shocked. We talked a little about vitello tonnato made with mystery meat and supermarket mayonnaise, the tragedy of good food made poorly. Guarducci paused for a moment. “You know it is always the case with simple food,” he said. “Simple cooking is never simple.”

But it need not be difficult.

For today’s recipe, we start with what the meat men call an eye round of veal, from the animal’s rear leg. John McFadden, who has run the Staubitz butcher shop on Court Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, for more than 40 years, told me he needs to cut as much as 75 pounds of meat to get at that one piece — so call ahead to make sure you can get what you want. If there is some raggedness to what you receive (never the case with Staubitz!), tie it into shape with cotton string, as with a tenderloin. If you cannot get eye round, try boned leg meat or loin, with some fat on it.

Alessandro Caporale, the chef at Casa Lever, first sears the meat in olive oil to seal in its juices, according to Guarducci, then submerges it in bubbling wine and stock until it is pink and ready, at which point he puts it in the refrigerator to chill and set. The vitello tonnato he makes from this is sublime: sweet and rich, the meat separated from its thick tuna sauce by an expanse of white china.

It is not strictly necessary to follow his lead in browning, however, at least according to the scholar-gentry class of European cookery. Elizabeth David, for example, did not call for browning the meat in her two recipes for vitello tonnato. Nor did Marcella Hazan, Craig Claiborne or Giuliano Bugialli, whose 1982 treatise, “Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking,” ought to be required reading for every American food nerd with a taste for olive oil.

Mark Ladner, the elaborately bespectacled chef at the plush and excellent Del Posto restaurant in Manhattan, does not take a position on searing. But he said in a telephone interview that he thought it crucial that the braising liquid for the veal include some best-quality jarred Italian tuna.

This was a tip he picked up, he said, at Ambasciata, a celebrated restaurant in Lombardy, south of Verona, that offers Italian food of the very oldest school. The flavor of the tuna leaches into the cellular structure of the meat (and vice versa) during the cooking, creating a taste-echo effect that works beautifully on the plate.

At Ambasciata, Ladner said, the braising sauce becomes so concentrated as to make using a thickening agent for it irrelevant. This is undoubtedly the case. At my house, however, it results in a not-thick-if-fantastically-flavorful broth that I use to thin out a mayonnaise base that many modern Italians, including Caporale and Hazan, call for in the dish, along with anchovies and caper brine for salt and acidity.

Regardless of methodology, your tonnato sauce should not taste of mayonnaise. (If you start with store-bought mayonnaise, you are already sunk.) It should instead taste purely of tuna and the sea it emerged from, and have the texture almost of yogurt, or heavy farm-bought cream.

Now combine. Take your poached veal, cool and firm from the refrigerator and slice it as thinly as possible, then place on a platter above a thin schmear of the tuna sauce. Spoon over the top of the meat more tuna sauce, and yet more tuna sauce, until it is all on the platter, then cover with plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator for the night or longer.

Eventually you will remove the plastic and smooth out the sauce with the back of a knife or a serving spoon. Garnish with fried capers, as Caporale does at Casa Lever, or fat caper berries and thinly sliced lemons, or quartered hard-boiled eggs or little cornichons, and scatter with parsley, then serve with a green salad and plenty of bread. It will taste of summer itself.

But endeavor to give the tuna time enough to infiltrate the veal, and for the veal to get to know the tuna.

“The longer this husbandry is practiced,” Ladner said, “the better the funk.”


Vitello Tonnato Tradizionale

Vitello Tonnato is a staple of Northern Italian culinary tradition. Very likely, it appeared on the tables of Italy at the end of the 18 th century and more than one region claim to be the fatherland of this delicious dish, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto above all others. As a Piedmontese, I of course consider Vitello Tonnato piedmontese, but I will not get offended if you see it differently!

The first, written recipe for Vitello Tonnato was the one presented by Pellegrino Artusi in his La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene, published for the first time in 1881. But if I told you there is one, single recipe for Vitello Tonnato, I would be lying. First of all, there are a cold and a hot version of it, but here we will only present the cold version, which is by far the more popular.

Thing is, cold Vitello Tonnato is not always made the same way. In my family, for instance, the sauce has always been mayonnaise-based, as it was this way my grandmothers made it. Basically, you would add the blended tuna, capers and anchovies to a base of homemade mayonnaise: yes, homemade. There was no way my grandmothers would have bought mayonnaise from a store.

This version of the sauce is at least one century old, so it could well be considered “traditional,” yet, there is an even older version of it, which does not involve the use of mayonnaise. The binders for all the ingredients are boiled egg yolks and olive oil, to which, once again, tuna, capers and anchovies are added. Both sauces are delicious and delicate, with a lovely punch given by the anchovies.

Below, we propose the recipe for both sauces.

The mayonnaise based sauce is delicious on fresh bread or as a substitute for simple mayonnaise in a meat sandwich. To have a truly delicious “salsa tonnata” with mayo, you should really use homemade mayonnaise, as it makes an enormous difference in taste and texture.

When it comes to the meat, the piece usually chosen is the “girello,” or eye round in English: needless to say, the meat has to be of the best quality, if you truly want to enjoy Vitello Tonnato at its best.

Ph. cyclonebill on flickr (flic.kr/p/bCzGPs)


Vitello Tonnato (Veal With a Tuna Sauce)

Antipasti or appetisers are assaggini or 'little tasters' of more abundant things to come during a four course meal. Piedmont, my adopted region is renowned for its variety of these dishes. Here they can be raw or cooked, hot or cold, and can be meat, fish, egg, vegetable or cheese-based. It’s not uncommon for home cooks and restaurants here to serve several come mealtime. Most locals here know however they're best off to show restraint at the beginning of a meal and not overindulge before their starters, mains and desserts arrive. Personally though, I find this very difficult, especially when a quality vitello tonnato is served to commence the feasting.

The umaminess of its distinct meat-fish combination renders vitello tonnato, meaning 'tunnied veal', something well out of the ordinary. Essentially, you boil a boneless cut of veal and leave it in your refrigerator overnight. The next day, you slice it as finely as possible, arrange the slices on a platter and lather a tuna, hard-boiled egg yolk, anchovy and caper-based sauce on top. Add a few caper berries for garnish and voilà,you have possibly the most elegant Piedmontese antipasto to start a summer feast.

The process for making this dish may appear a bit long. Rest assured though, it's quite simple to make. Over the years, I've also picked up some tips from locals in the know for getting the best possible results. Don't be tempted to boil the meat for any longer than the indicated 35 minutes, first of all. As Paolo, my butcher argues, the meat will continue to cook from the residual heat of remaining in the broth-filled pot. Also, if a customer brings him an overcooked cut ofrotonda(that's the torineseterm for the equivalent Australian/British silverside or American round steak), he says he finds it very difficult to slice the meat with his affettatrice to the immaculate, prosciutto crudo-like thinness that diners increasingly expect when served this dish.

Secondly - and this advice comes from my cooking school teacher - forget about replacing the hard-boiled eggs yolks with mayonnaise, which is becoming a more and more common practice in Piedmont. Why? The mayonnaise will be weighed down by all the other ingredients, resulting in a less than appetising-looking runny mess. For a perfectly emulsified result, simply add some extra virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream as you pulse the minced tuna, anchovies, hard-boiled egg yolks and capers in your food processor.

A couple more notes, this time regarding capers and anchovies. In Italy, salt-preserved anchovies and capers are easily available. They are generally the preferred choice too when making this and many other dishes which include these ingredients. Salt, after all, is not only one of the world's oldest preservatives but also one of the most effective agents for bringing out the flavour of foods. Elsewhere though, you're more likely to find vinegar-preserved capers and oil-packed anchovies. If so, be sure to drain these thoroughly of their respective preserving liquids as their quality is not often up to scratch. Simply place them on a plate lined with absorbent paper towels to do so. To remove excess salt, soak the anchovies and anchovies and capers in cold water for 10 minutes and rinse them afterwards.

Finally, even though vitello tonnato is generally considered an antipasto here in Piedmont, do feel free to serve it as a summery one-dish meal or main course. At this very hot and humid time of year, I often enjoy making a meal out of platter of this dish, accompanied by a green salad, for my family and I of three. The four course meal scenario I described above is nearly always reserved for feast days and special occasions in the region. Basically, don't feel the need to go all out on a weeknight!

Ingredients (serves 6 as an antipasto or 4 as a main course)


Michel Roux Jr’s wines to drink

Michel Chapoutier, Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche Blanc: This is a young, fresh and well-balanced wine that blends Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc grapes. An astringent white wine with green apple and citrus aromas that pair perfectly with Mediterranean flavours.
RRP: £6.56 from Majestic Wines

Domaine Hubert Lamy, Chassagne-Montrachet, Le Concis du Champs: The creamy texture of this wine resembles the creaminess of the veal sauce. Whilst the perfect acidity holds its own with the capers and anchovies.
RRP: £42.50 from Berry Bros and Rudd


Recipe: Vitello Tonnato

Thanks to the addition of crisp seasonal vegetables, traditional vitello tonnato becomes an ideal warm-weather meal.

One of my favorite warm-weather dishes is the Italian classic vitello tonnato. The dish has its origins in the Piedmont region, which is surrounded on three sides by the Alps. But it was a Tuscan who introduced me to this wonderful dish of thinly sliced veal, or vitello, served in a sauce flavored with tuna, or tonnato.

When I was the executive chef at Le Cirque, the cuisine may have been French, but the owner, Sirio Maccioni, was Italian through and through. His wife, Egidiana, who is a wonderful cook, guided me in preparing proper Italian lunches for her husband to enjoy behind the scenes, including vitello tonnato. I love the combination of the delicate veal with the pungent sauce, which contains anchovies as well as tuna, lending a note of umami to the dish.

I also like to nourish the dish with flavor and freshness, adding a touch of Dijon to the sauce and incorporating such crudités as celery, sliced radishes, cucumbers, or cherry tomatoes. It's a perfect entrée for a summer lunch or buffet because it is prepared in advance and served at room temperature, so there is little to do once your guests arrive&mdashother than pour the wine.

WHAT TO DRINK

"This is a challenging dish," says Raj Vaidya, head sommelier of Daniel restaurant. "The tender veal calls for red wine, but the briny tuna and anchovies require something light." He suggests Combe Trousseau from Stolpman Vineyards in Ballard Canyon, California ($29). "This red is made from a grape variety from eastern France that has a light body, aromatic complexity, and plenty of fresh acidity and pepperiness." An alternative would be Crémant de Jura Rosé ($24), a sparkling rosé from Bénédicte et Stéphane Tissot. "It's fruity, yet dry on the palate," says Vaidya.

VITELLO TONNATO

1 7-oz. can or jar of good-quality tuna packed in oil, drained

12-15 salted anchovy fillets in oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 T capers in brine, plus 1 tsp. set aside

Juice of one 1 lemon or 2 T white wine vinegar

3 stalks of celery, plus leaves from entire bunch

1½ lb. veal cutlets, approximately 1 inch thick

Freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, combine the egg yolks, mustard, half the tuna, half the anchovies, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the capers puree on medium until just combined but still chunky. With the blender running on low, slowly add the grapeseed oil in a steady stream until the sauce has the consistency of mayonnaise. Add the lemon juice or white wine vinegar and taste for seasoning. Add a pinch of salt or more lemon juice or vinegar, if desired. Transfer to a container and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Cut the stalks of celery into 1-inch pieces and add to the boiling water cook for 1 minute. Prepare a bowl of ice water and, with a slotted spoon, transfer the celery to the ice water for three minutes. Drain the celery and set it aside.

Season the veal with salt and black pepper on both sides. In a medium sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat, then sear the veal for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side, depending on thickness. Remove the veal from the pan and set aside to cool slightly thinly slice against the grain.

To serve, spread the sauce on the bottom of a plate. Fold the veal slices in half and lay them on top of the sauce in a circle, with one piece in the center. Garnish with the remaining tuna, anchovies, and capers. Sprinkle celery leaves and parsley on top.

Optional Toppings:

Add fresh color and texture to this dish with peppery radishes. Simply shave the radishes thinly, preferably on a Japanese mandoline, and keep them in cold water for a few minutes so they stay crunchy. A garnish of small, ripe tomatoes can add more color and a burst of sweetness. I recommend the grape or cherry tomatoes on the vine that are so abundant in late summer&mdashjust slice them in half and scatter over the top. Chopped black olives also work well with the briny capers and salty anchovies.


Ingredients

  • 1 1 ⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • 12 whole peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 carrots, halved crosswise
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved
  • 1 rib celery, halved crosswise
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 (2 1/2-lb.) piece veal top round, tied with kitchen twine
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1 ⁄2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 oz. canned tuna, minced
  • 3 tbsp. capers, minced, plus more
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 5 anchovy filets, minced
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Recipe Summary

  • 1 (1 1/2-pounds) center-cut pork loin, tied
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (5-ounce) can tuna in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 8 cups mixed torn baby lettuces
  • 12 ounces mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved or cut into chunks
  • 4 multicolored carrots, shaved into ribbons
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, sliced
  • 8 Easter Egg radishes, quartered

Season pork with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Place pork, fat side up, on a rimmed baking sheet let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Roast pork in preheated oven until fat is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F without opening oven door. Continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 135°F, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pork to a platter, and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cover with aluminum foil, and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Process mayonnaise, tuna, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until very smooth, about 30 seconds.

Toss together lettuces, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and radishes in a large bowl season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Untie pork, and cut against the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Serve pork and salad with tonnato sauce.


Marcella Hazan’s pork loin braised in milk, Bolognese style

Photograph: Martin Poole for the Observer

If, from the tens of thousands of dishes that constitute the recorded repertoire of Italian regional cooking, one were to choose just a handful that most clearly express the genius of the cuisine, this one would be among them. Apart from a minimal amount of fat required to brown the meat, it has only two components: a loin of pork, and milk. As they slowly cook together, they are transformed. The pork acquires a delicacy of texture and flavour that leads some to mistake it for veal, and the milk disappears to be replaced by clusters of delicious, nut-brown sauce.

The cut of meat specified includes the rib bones to which the pork’s loin is attached. Have the butcher detach the meat in one piece from the ribs and split the ribs into 2 or 3 parts. By having had the loin boned, you can brown it more thoroughly, and by cooking it along with the bones, the roast benefits from the substantial contribution the bones make.

Another cut of pork that is well suited to this dish is the boneless role of muscle at the base of the neck, known as boned and rolled neck or blade. There is a layer of fat in the centre that runs the length of the muscle. It makes this cut very juicy and tasty, but when you carve it later, the slices tend to break apart where the meat joins the fat. If you don’t think this would be a problem you can substitute 1 kilo of it in one piece for the rib roast.

Do not have any fat trimmed away. It will melt in the cooking, basting the meat and keeping it from drying. When the roast is done, you will be able to draw it off from the pot and discard it.

Serves 6
butter 15g
vegetable oil 2 tbsp
pork loin rib roast 1.2kg (see note above)
salt
freshly ground pepper
full-cream milk 575ml or more

Heat the butter and oil over a medium-high heat in a casserole just large enough to contain the pork. When the butter foam subsides, add the meat, fat side down. Brown thoroughly on all sides lowering the heat if the butter starts to turn dark brown.

Add the salt, pepper and 250ml of the milk. Add the milk slowly lest it boil over. Allow the milk to come to a brisk simmer for 20 or 30 seconds, turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pot with the lid on slightly askew.

Cook at a very lazy simmer for about 1 hour, until the milk has thickened into a light nut-brown sauce. (The exact time it will take depends largely on the heat of your burner and the thickness of your pot.) When the milk reaches this stage, and not before, add another 250ml of the milk, let it simmer for about 10 minutes, then cover the pot putting the lid on tightly. Check and turn the pork from time to time.

After 30 minutes, set the lid slightly askew. Continue to cook at minimum heat and, when you see there is no more liquid milk in the pot, add the remaining milk. Continue cooking until the meat feels tender when prodded with a fork and all the milk has coagulated into small nut-brown clusters. Altogether it will take between 2½ and 3 hours. If, before the meat is fully cooked, you find that the liquid in the pot has evaporated, add another 100ml of milk, repeating the step if it should become necessary.

When the pork has become tender and all the milk in the pot has thickened into dark clusters, transfer the meat to a cutting board. Let it settle for a few minutes, then cut into slices about 1cm thick or slightly less, and arrange them on a warm serving platter.

Tip the pot and spoon off most of the fat – there may be as much as a mugful of it – being careful to leave behind all the coagulated milk clusters. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water and boil away the water over a high heat, at the same time using a wooden spoon to scrape loose the cooking residues from the bottom and sides of the pot. Spoon all the pot juices over the pork and serve immediately.

From The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan (Boxtree, £30). Click here to buy it from Guardian Bookshop for £24


Watch the video: Vitello Tonnato (June 2022).