How to cook and serve vitello tonnato | Salt & Pepper – Italian Cuisine

How to cook and serve vitello tonnato | Salt & Pepper



It was one of the dishes symbol of kitchen the eighties but today, like today, it is increasingly fashionable: we are talking about vitello tonnato. Contrary to what was claimed in the past, this dish has no French origins, but was born but in Piedmont, in the eighteenth century. Over time his recipe has been enriched with mayonnaise and yes, even of the tuna, which was not originally there. Discover with Sale & Pepe how to prepare vitello tonnato perfectly done!

Vitello tonnato: the origins

Assiduously present on the tables of the last century with a name not exactly the same: the veal with tuna was never spoken but of vitel tonné. Originally it was thought to have French origins instead it is a dish born in Italy, precisely in the Cuneo area at the beginning of the 18th century. It seems that in the original recipe in vitello tonnato there was no trace of tuna and it was called that because the calf came cooked like a tuna. Only later was the ventresca oil added to enrich the dish.

It is easy to remember the presence of dishes "sea and mountains" in the menus of the 1980s. But perhaps not everyone knows that not at the origin of this union "meat and fish"there is no culinary fashion of that crazy decade, but a habit well rooted in the Piedmontese cuisine. All thanks to the anchovy Piedmont, always in contact with the Ligurian ports and the mouths of the Rhône. Here they used to buy salt at affordable prices and then sell it at a high price at home. Sometimes they hid it under layers of anchovies or anchovies to avoid being caught by customs officers. While salt cost a head's eye, anchovies and anchovies were in fact very cheap (this explains the birth of bagna cauda in the area).

The tuna came in Piedmont towards the end of the nineteenth century. The first to mention it in a recipe book is Pellegrino Artusi. In his The science of cooking and the art of eating well the Romagna gastronomist recommends to provide himself with "milk veal, in the thigh or in the culaccio", to be dressed with filleted anchovies. The meat then goes boiled in plenty of water with a pickled onion with two cloves, bay leaves, celery, carrot and parsley. Once cooked, the broth should not be thrown away: it can be recovered in a risotto. The veal should be left to cool and cut into thin slices. The result should be put into infusion a day or two in one anchovy sauce, tuna, lemon, oil and capers.

The version that became famous in the 1980s has a significant difference: the mayonnaise. Arrived in Italy during the twentieth century, began to peep on this dish in the sixties. Today Carlo Cracco he claims that the real vitel tonné is with tuna sauce and not with mayonnaise, while Heinz Beck has innovated this dish by reversing "the order of the addends". His fact is a calf tuna.

To prepare the vitello tonnato according to the original Piedmontese recipe take a veal roundabout (also called magatello), put it in a bowl and cover it with white wine, bits of celery, 2 bay leaves, 3 cloves, 6 sage leaves. Let it flavor for 12 hours, covering everything with the film. After that, put the walker in one casserole, cover it with the filtered marinade and top it up with water so that it is covered. Add salt and bring to a boil: from that moment, cook for an hour and a half. After that put the meat in the fridge for an hour to make it firm.

The real peculiarity of the Piedmontese recipe of vitello tonnato is the addition to the tuna of the firm yolks. These should be blended together with drained oil in oil, capers, lemon juice, anchovies, 1/2 glass of oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Compared to the Artusi recipe, anchovies are not cooked with meat but directly in the sauce. Cut the meat a very thin slices, perhaps helping you with a slicer and arranging it in the dishes. Cover with plenty of tuna sauce and complete with some capers and pickled gherkins.

Vitello tonnato: the simple recipe

A simple recipe for prepare the vitello tonnato in a short time it involves the use of already cut slices of veal walker. In this way you will avoid the long cooking of the whole piece. The scallops are browned in a saucepan and then covered with hot water and classic aromas. Cook them for no more than 15 minutes.

There sauce it remains the same: tuna, capers, anchovies, lemon juice. Blend everything with the mixer and then add mayonnaise to create a creamier amalgam. Drain the slices and place them on a serving dish. Allow to cool and sprinkle with sauce.

How to cook vitello tonnato meat

Definitely one of the secrets to make a vitello tonnato traditional is cooking meat: boiled with the addition of vegetables and aromas. There is an old grandmother's saying that reads: "If you want a good one broth put the meat with cold water, if you want a good one boiled put the meat with boiling water". But be careful not to cook the veal for a long time, making the meat too dark and stale!

Then fill one pot of water, add a onion, a rib of celery, one carrot, a garnished bunch and bring to a boil. After 20 minutes of slow boiling, immerse the meat and make it cook for about 75 minutes, repeatedly skimming the impurities that appear on the surface.

If you like to enhance the pink color of the meat, prefer the baking, like theroast veal. In this case, brown the meat in a casserole with oil and herbs, blend with the wine, wet with a finger or two of hot meat or vegetable stock and bake at 180 ° until cooked, lengthening the bottom if it shrinks.

If you don't have much time to follow cooking meat, you can use the pressure cooker. In this case brown the veal in a little oil keeping the flame high. If you like, blend with the white wine, then add the vegetables, the aromas and let it flavor for a few minutes. Then adjust the salt and pour a cup of warm water, mix everything. Put the lid on and place the valve, cook, starting from the whistle, for about 50 minutes over medium-low heat.

In any case, once cooked, let it cool the meat in its broth or, if cooked in the oven, drain the roast from the cooking bottom and let it cool wrapped in aluminum foil; the cooking liquid is used to use it in other preparations.

How to make the sauce for the vitello tonnato (with or without eggs and mayonnaise)

The sauce in the vitello tonnato it is essential to complete the dish, in addition to giving the unmistakable taste, it returns succulence to the fibers of the meat which, when cooled and sliced, would otherwise be stringy.

If you want to prepare one tuna sauce light and appetizing, suitable for seasoning the tender slices obtained from the "boiled" that you have prepared, put in the mixer 1 egg whole and 2 yolks, 170 g of tuna in oil, drained and chopped, 2 fillets of anchovy, a spoonful of capers, one of juice of lemon and a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Blend it by adding more oil until a thick sauce is obtained.

Alternatively, you can blend tuna, capers and anchovies and incorporate them into a cup of home made mayonnaise ; if it is too thick or if you want to make it your tastiest sauce, add a few tablespoons of filtered broth or the bottom of your veal roast.

As we have already explained on seasoning of vitello tonnato, anciently, it was prepared in various ways: with anchovies and lemon; white wine, celery, carrots, onion, cloves, salt, pepper and oil. The vitello tonnato in the Pellegrino Artusi version is brought to the table seasoned with one sauce without eggs made of crusted tuna belly, anchovies, capers, in an emulsion of oil and lemon; mayonnaise or the use of eggs in the preparation of sauce is a "fashion" of the beginning of the twentieth century.

How to cut the vitello tonnato meat

The veal with tuna must be served in slices! With a sharp knife, first remove the fat parts from the cold meat, then reduce it to slices thin, trying to get them all of the same thickness, smooth and without grooves.

How to serve veal with tuna sauce

Arrange the slices of veal on a serving plate trying not to overlap too much and distribute over the sauce I uniformly understand the slices. Decorate if you like with capers and gherkins. At this point yours vitello tonnato is finally ready and can be served!

How to preserve the vitello tonnato

In addition to being a fresh dish, the vitello tonnato has the advantage of being able to be prepared in advance and served at the appropriate time. Having to leave the preparation on hold, cover it with a sheet of food film, otherwise the sauce tends to darken. Then store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The tuna sauce should be stored in the refrigerator and in an airtight container for a maximum of 2/3 days.

Meat cuts and alternatives: can you do with the loin?

If you do not have the cut "thigh or rump" of the veal, you can prepare an excellent one lonza tonnata. With this cut of pork the procedure does not change. The piece of meat is boiled for an hour and a half in water and flavorings. After this time, turn off the heat and let the loin cool, which we will then season with tuna sauce or tuna and mayonnaise.

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