Vitello Tonnato

Serves 10-12 as a starter portion

For the meat you need

About 1,2kg meat (veal or beef eye muscle of the silverside or 4-5 pork fillets)

2 white onions, sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, sliced

5ml peppercorns (mixed or black)

500ml white wine, I like using chenin blanc, but you can use any white wine as long as it is dry and slightly fruity

A few bay leaves

To prepare the meat:

Trim the meat of any outer membrane. If you are using pork fillets, arrange them lengthwise over a few pieces of string and tie them together to form one ‘roll’.

Place the meat in a glass, porcelain or stainless steel container, (because I use the oven method, I use an ovenable container at this stage!) add the remaining ingredients. If the wine does not cover the meat, add more wine or top up with water to cover.

Cover the meat and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. I often leave it for 24 hours.

To cook, remove the meat from the fridge for about an hour.

To cook in the oven: Heat the oven to 180⁰C and cover the meat with foil. Bake for 1 hour for a chunk that has a diameter up to 12cm. If it is thicker, bake for about 80 minutes.

Remove the meat from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in the cooking liquid for at least 6-12 hours.

To cook on the stove top: Place the meat and the marinade in a saucepan, ensuring that the meat is covered in liquid. Top up with water if necessary. Cover with a firmly fitting lid. Bring it to the boil and simmer for an hour. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in the cooking liquid for at least 6-12 hours.

For the tuna mayonnaise you need

This can also be made a day in advance for the flavours to develop.

3 egg yolks

1ml salt

5ml Dijon or any mild mustard

5ml sugar

25ml good quality red or white wine vinegar

250ml canola or similar oil (do not use olive oil, the flavours are too strong)

2 cans tuna in oil or 1 can tuna in oil and one in water (water drained)

6-8 anchovies

15ml lemon juice

Place the first 5 ingredients in a food processor or into a blender bowl, blend for about 10 seconds to mix thoroughly.

If using a food processor drizzle the oil in while running the motor on high speed.

If using a blender or a stick blender, add half of the oil and blend for about 1 minute, then add the remaining oil and blend again.

Add the tuna and the oil, the anchovies and the lemon juice, blend until the mixture is smooth.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Refrigerate until required.

To serve you need: about 150ml capers, drained

Optional: chopped Italian (flat leafed) parsley

To serve

Remove the meat from the marinade.

If you are using pork fillet, leave the string on to retain the shape. The pieces may fall apart, but don’t stress, they will be covered with sauce!

The meat may be very pale pink, this is due to the marinade and lack of contact with the air, but it will turn grey once sliced and left open.

Carve thin slices.

Arrange the meat in a single layer on a flat platter.

Spoon the mayonnaise over and spread it slightly if necessary. Leave some meat showing on the edges of the platter.

Sprinkle the capers and the parsley over.

Refrigerate until required or bring to room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.

Serve with crusty bread and a fruity white wine.

The following photos were taken in a beautiful restaurant in Piedmont. Note the very yellow colour. This is probably from the egg yolks. In Italy you can buy eggs with golden yolks, especially for your pasta or mayonnaise. I’m sure the hens are fed carrots and yellow maize!

The tuna mayo can be served with other dishes:

I sometimes ‘dilute’ the tonnato with a little Greek yoghurt to cut the richness.

Try it on boiled eggs

With green beans

On a bed of wilted spinach

With baby potatoes and beans …. A play on Salad Nicoise