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Vitello tonnato – Veal with a tuna sauce

When you are going out for dinner in Piemonte will Vitello Tonnato – Veal with a tuna sauce proberly be a part of the appetizers. But why not try it for a main cource. It will goes perfect in the summer with an Arneis from Roero or a Langhe Favorita.


  • 500 gr of veal loin
  • 3 dl dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  •  2 sage leaves
  •  1 tablespoon olive oil
  •  battuto: a battuto is the finely chopped mixture of herbs that flavor an Italian dis. In this case 30 gr each of carrot, celery, onion, and flat-leaved parsley• Purists (i.e• Cucinone) use a mezzaluna, a crescent-shaped knife, and a chopping board
  • 4 salted anchovies, deboned and desalted
  •  150 gr of best-quality tinned tuna
  •  2 hard boiled egg yolks
  •  20 gr salted capers, desalted
  •  1/2 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
  •  3 tablespoons lemon juice
  •  1 dl olive oil
  •  pepper and salt


Thinly sliced veal covered with a tuna sauce could be an invention of nouvelle cuisine or fusion kitchen.  This recipe however is truly Italian, and comes from Piemonte. It was already mentioned in the cookbook  ”Il cuoco senza pretese” written by Odescalchi in 1834, where the recipe still had the name “vitello tonné”

Too often the veal is being roasted and covered with a sauce made up of mayonaise mixed with  some tuna. The resulting sauce misses the finesse and freshness of the real stuff, which is made of egg yolks and olive oil, cooking juices of the veal and enhanced by capers, anchovies, lemon juice and a hint of vinegar.

The classic preparation demands some time: the veal is marinated overnight, and then simmered in the marinade.  The prepared dish should be kept for some hours in a cold place, for the taste to develop fully.

Marinate the meat for 24 hours in the white wine with the sage leaves and the bay leaf. Sieve the marinade and put it in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2dl of water.  Bring to a boil, put the meat in the liquid with the battuto and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the anchovies and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the meat cool in the cooking liquid. Wrap it in cling film and let it get thoroughly cold in the fridge.

Sieve the cooking liquid into a pan, and let it reduce to 2 1/2 dl. Let it cool down completely.

Put the tuna with the egg yolks and the cooked anchovies in a blender.  Add half of the capers, the lemon juice, the vinegar and the olive oil and blend.  Thin down this mixture with 1 1/2 dl of the cooking juice. Aim for a relative thick consistency, and taste for salt and pepper.

Cut the meat in thin slices, and put on a serving dish.  Cover with the sauce, and garnish with the remaining capers. Let rest for a few hours in a cold place (or overnight in the fridge, but do take it out before serving to come to room temperature).

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Henrik Koudahl

En personlig blog for Henrik Koudahl. Her skriver jeg om de ting, der har min interesse. En cocktail der indeholder emner, der dækker over alt lige fra iværksætteri og Italien til emner inden for mad og vin.

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