Meat and poultry recipes

Vitello Tonnato. Italian flavored meat

Vitello Tonnato. Italian flavored meat


  • Easy
  • 45 minutes
  • For 4 people
  • € 4 / person

The recipe that I bring you today is a classic in Italian gastronomy, the vitello tonnato , which literally translated from Italian comes to mean tuna calf . A priori the mixture of tuna with beef sounds a bit strange, the truth is that it is delicious and is liked by everyone. The cradle of this dish is considered to be in the Piedmont area. It is also very popular in Argentina and Uruguay, surely due to the large Italian collective and their descendants, which exist in these countries. We can even see this recipe in one of the cookbooks of Sophia Loren, a great cooker who cooked Vitello Tonnato according to the recipe of her maternal grandmother Luisa.

This recipe is in the book ” The science of cooking and the art of good eating “, published in 1894 by Pellegrino Artusi, considered the father of modern Italian cuisine. It is usually prepared for special occasions such as Christmas dates or as summer food since it is served cold. It is a preparation of seasoned and cooked beef, which is presented cut into thin slices, seasoned with a sauce based on tuna, egg, anchovies and capers.

It may seem a somewhat strange combination, it is actually a very tasty dish that pairs perfectly. When the meat is cooked with aromatic herbs and spices, it acquires an interesting flavor and aroma, so much so that it will remain perfect after several days. This makes our work easier, since we can prepare it one or two days in advance and make the sauce to accompany it when we are going to serve it. Perfect as a first or as a starter in summer meals, a practical and simple recipe that I prepare a lot when the good weather comes. I hope you like it and prepare it at home.

Preparation of the Vitello Tonnato

  1. We clean the meat of any remaining fat that it may have and place it in a saucepan together with the peeled onion and cut in two, the peeled garlic cloves, the carrot, the celery stick, the black pepper, the cloves, the thyme, salt, a bay leaf, water and wine.
  2. If we use a fast pot or an express pot, we will need 17 minutes of cooking, turn off the heat and leave the pot closed until it can be opened. If we use the traditional method, we must cook the meat for at least 1 hour 30 minutes, until we see that it is tender.
  3. We leave the meat in the cooking liquid until it has cooled completely and completely submerged so that it does not dry. The ideal is to make this starter from one day to the next, with which we will keep the pot in the fridge and thus keep the meat cold.
  4. When we want to assemble the dish, prepare the accompanying sauce by mixing the cooked egg yolks, the tuna, the anchovies, the capers, the vinegar, the oil and a splash of the meat cooking broth in the mixer.
  5. We crush all the ingredients with the blender and check the thickness of the sauce, if necessary we would add more cooking broth until we achieve the desired texture. Let it cool in the fridge, set aside.
  6. We remove the meat from the liquid, dry it with kitchen paper and cut it into the thinnest slices possible, cold cuts. Since the meat is already cold, this work will be much easier than if we tried to cut it hot. If we have a firewall, it is time to use it.
  7. We serve the plate by placing the slices separate from each other, in this case a little thicker than normal, we like meat like this. Although the original Italian recipe is as thin as possible.
  8. We bathe each one with a spoonful of tuna sauce and decorate with capers. When serving, we can also decorate it with other pickles such as gherkins, even a little boiled egg.

With minimal work, we have an appetizer or starter of category ready, with a juicy and tender texture and a flavor that you will love, a delicious dish.

Tips and recommendations

  1. Ask your trusted butcher for a good round of beef, here is the key to the success of the recipe.
  2. This recipe is made in Italy very similar to this recipe, but in each house they have their tastes and variations. Cook the meat to your liking, you can fry it in a little virgin olive oil, roast it in the oven or cook it in water with salt and vegetables as I have prepared it, but in both cases you have to let it cool well before cutting it.
  3. It is best to prepare all day before, this dish is usually served cold. You have to cook the meat and prepare the sauce, rest everything and cool in the fridge. The meat will take the flavor of the sauce and will be exquisite. A perfect dish to enjoy during the summer, cold and light, at home we usually accompany it with Russian salad.
  4. It is prepared based on beef cut into very thin slices with a delicious tuna sauce, if you do not have a good knife at home and you trust your butcher you can ask him to cut the piece into thin slices in the sausage machine. Or serve it as I present it in the recipe.
  5. For the sauce, prepare it as I recommend in the recipe. In many restaurants I have seen that they use mayonnaise, it does not come close to the original recipe. We will get a lighter and tastier touch than with mayonnaise, and I assure you it does not take so long to prepare it.
  6. To cut the meat with a knife it must be completely cold, but I assure you that it will undo it, for sure.

You can see all the photos of the step by step in the next album.  

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