This recipe appears in:Meet & Eat: Emma Hearst and Sarah Krathen, Sorella
Per VickyB’s request, here’s a recipe for vitello tonnato, a famous Italian appetizer of cold, sliced veal served with a creamy tuna sauce. Save your beautiful ruby tuna steak for another night, because vitello tonnato is always made with canned tuna. The most labor-intensive part here is cooking the veal, which itself is not very difficult—and feel free to use leftover roast veal instead.
The following recipe is a condensed version of the one that appears in Laurousse Gastronomique, and it’s a bit old-school. If the process of browning veal bones and deglazing a pan just to get a few tablespoons of liquid strikes you as overly fussy, just skip it altogether, and instead thin the sauce with water or chicken stock.
One 3 to 2-1/2 pound boneless loin of veal (do not discard the bones)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup water
1 5-ounce can tuna, drained
3 to 5 anchovies
3 tablespoons capers, drained, plus more for garnish
1 cup mayonnaise
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Season the veal with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and brown the veal thoroughly on all sides. Place in a roasting pan with the veal bones, if using. Dot the veal with butter and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic to the pan and roast an additional 10 minutes. When an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast reaches about 135 degrees F (this should give you meat of medium doneness), remove the roast from the pan and set aside to cool. Discard the bones, then spoon the grease from the juices that have accumulated in the pan; discard the grease. Set the roasting pan on the stove over high heat and deglaze the pan by adding the white wine and the water, scraping up any browned bits with the back of a wooden spoon. Let the liquid in the pan reduce by half, then strain and reserve.
When the roast is cool, cover and place in the refrigerator to chill. Meanwhile, make the sauce: combine the tuna, anchovies, capers, mayonnaise, and 1 tablespoon of the reserved roasting juices (or water or chicken stock) and puree in a blender or food processor. Thin, if necessary, with more roasting juice (the sauce should be of pouring consistency) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, thinly slice the veal. Arrange on a platter and top with the sauce. Garnish with capers and a drizzle of olive oil. Serves many. *Note:* Vitello tonnato is an excellent use for leftover roast veal. If using tuna that’s packed in olive oil, go ahead and add the olive oil to the sauce. Other ways of garnishing this dish include quartered radiccio, sieved hard-cooked egg yolks, and a squirt of fresh lemon juice.