Vitello Tonnato – Dani Valent

A classic Italian dish of poached veal and tuna that seems like it was designed just for the Thermomix

Sometimes a classic dish, loved for centuries, seems as though it was conceived precisely for the Thermomix. That’s the case with vitello tonnato, a venerable Italian meat platter, made by layering poached veal with a tuna sauce. It’s so easy to poach the meat in the Thermomix and then use the flavoursome poaching liquid as a base for the sauce.

If you’ve never encountered this dish before, you may think it’s rather an odd combination, or ‘strangers on a plate‘, as this great article notes. Trust me – and generations of Italians, of course! – it really works.

Another bonus is that this dish loves to be made ahead of time; it’s brilliant for picnics and parties. Though ‘vitello’ is veal (young cow), I use beef for my version. You can use either! See Tips below for more thoughts on cuts.

Serves: 8-10 as an entree
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Beef

  • 600 grams (21 oz) girello in the piece (see Tips)
  • 60 grams (2 oz) onion
  • 
60 grams (2 oz) carrot
  • 
½ celery stick
  • 
2 garlic cloves
  • 
1 bay leaf
  • 
1 sprig parsley
  • 
3 anchovies
  • 
2 cloves
  • 
water, to cover

Tuna sauce

  • 3 eggs
  • 
600 grams (21 oz) veal poaching liquid, strained
  • 370 grams (13 oz) tuna, drained (see Tips)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, soaked for 10 minutes in water, then drained
  • 1 anchovy
  • 
juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 50 grams (3 ½ US tablespoons) olive oil
  • 
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

To serve

  • Lemon zest
  • 
Rocket
  • 
Capers
  • 
Grated parmigiano reggiano
 (parmesan cheese)

Method

1. Place all Beef ingredients in mixing bowl and poach 16 min/100˚C (212˚F)/Rev/speed soft. Ensure that fillet is not wedged in tightly and is free to jostle and move.

2. Remove all ingredients to a large bowl and allow to cool.

3. Place eggs in steamer basket and return 600 grams (21 oz) poaching liquid to mixing bowl. Steam eggs for 15 mins/Varoma/speed 2. Remove eggs and steamer basket and plunge eggs into cold water. Pour out poaching liquid and retain. When eggs are cool, peel and set aside.

4. Place tuna, capers, anchovy, lemon juice, olive oil, pepper and eggs in mixing bowl. Mix for 10 sec/speed 6. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl with spatula.

5. Turn to speed 3 and slowly add reserved poaching liquid to mixing bowl until tuna sauce is thick but pourable. Adjust with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

6. Place a layer of tuna sauce on a platter. Thinly slice meat and arrange on platter over the sauce. Cover with more sauce, saving one-third for last minute dressing. At this point, the platter can be set aside for up to two days. It’s good to leave it for at least three hours for flavours to absorb and mingle.

When ready to serve, spoon over extra sauce, and scatter with lemon zest, rocket, capers and parmigiano.

Tips

  • Which meat? Beef cuts are not named consistently. Some butchers will call this an ‘eye round’, or simply ’round’ or veal ‘nut’. You can also use silverside, topside or even eye fillet
  • the tinned tuna can be preserved in oil or water, but I prefer the extra unctuousness of oil
  • the meat should be quite cool before it is cut; you could poach the meat the day before you put the dish together

More about this video

  • Learn more about various approaches to this classic dish in this enjoyable read from the New York Times, Strangers on a Plate.
  • Learn more about beef in my Beef Banter chat with butcher Gary McBean. And while we’re on the subject of beef take a look at some of my favourite beef dishes.
  • A girl’s gotta get dressed. Today I’m wearing Obus with an Elk necklace.
  • We shot this video at Prahran Market.
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I love my Elk top & Obus pants

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