Vitello tonnato, or vitel tonè, is a classic of the Italian cuisine, but one in which you can have meat and fish in the same recipe, an uncommon combination. This recipe is typical of the Piedmont, in northern Italy, a region which has strong historical influences from neighboring France. There are many cities in Piedmont that boast of having “given birth” to this appetizing dish: among these we should surely recall Alba and Garessio, where it is said that you can taste the country’s best vitello tonnato.
This is a perfect dish to enjoy on a hot summer’s day; it’s light and delicate. You can serve it as an appetizer, or as a main course accompanied by grilled vegetables or a salad. My recipe is lighter than the traditional one, because I substitute the mayonnaise in the tuna sauce with yogurt. It is easier to digest and less caloric. The preparation is easy but it takes some time because the meat has to remain in the broth when cooling. If you plan a dinner, you can cook the meat the day before and store it in the fridge overnight.
900 g (2 pounds) magatello o girello, boneless roasting veal in one piece
1 carrot, peeled
1 stick celery
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 spring rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 whole peppercorns
500 ml (2 cups) dry white wine
200 g (7 oz) canned tuna, in extra virgin olive oil
1 anchovy fillet
2 tablespoons, capers, rinsed and drained + some to garnish
150 ml (about ½ cup) thick yogurt
1 tablespoon stock
Freshly ground pepper
1. Place the vegetables and flavorings in a medium sauce pan. Add the wine and about 1/2 liter (2 cups) of wate. Bring to boil, add the meat and some water to cover the meat completely. Simmer for about 70-75 minutes, covered with a lid. Turn off the heat and llow to cool the meat in the stock. If you’re tight on time, you can cook the meat the day before and store in the fridge overnight
2. While the meat is cooking, prepare the sauce. Drain the tuna and place in a food processor, add the anchovy, capers, yogurt, stock and some pepper to taste. Process to a creamy consistency. If it is too thick, add an additional tablespoon of stock.
3. Finely slice the meat. Arrange a layer of meat on a serving plate. Cover with the tuna sauce and garnish with some capers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15-20 minutes. Remove from the fridge and serve.
Note: You can use strain the stock and use it when preparing any risotto dish, like Risotto allo zafferano or with Tortellini in brodo. Homemade meat stock is an incredibly nutritious and health-boosting food. Even if you don’t have immediate plans to use the stock, I suggest filtering it and storing it in the freezer for up to three months, so it’ll be ready when you need it. In this recipe I add the meat to boiling water because I prefer having a tasty boilied meat, in case I prefer a tasty stock, I add all the ingredients at the same time. – Paola