An Italian summer classic of poached veal made easy.
If you’ve never had vitello tonnato, the notion of cold sliced veal blanketed with a tuna-caper mayonnaise may not sound like quite the thing. But it is. It is very much the thing. There’s something perfectly satisfying but light about this dish, especially when offered on a bed of salad. If you’re looking for something a bit cozier, try veal meatballs or veal scallopini. While this dish is traditionally made with “white veal” from calves kept in confinement, this recipe was created with rose veal, red veal, or pastured veal in mind.
For the veal:
- 1 piece veal top round or other roast (2 1⁄2-pounds)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 stalks celery
- 6 large sprigs parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 cup dry white wine
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 lemon
- 1 egg
- 1 can (5-oz) oil-packed tuna (drained)
- 2 tablespoons capers (drained)
- 4 canned or jarred anchovy fillets (drained)
- ¾ cup olive oil
- If the veal roast didn’t come tied, tie it with kitchen twine. Season it with the salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil; cook, turning as needed, until browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer the veal to a plate.
- While the veal browns, peel the onion and cut it into quarters; cut the celery into large pieces; separate the parsley leaves and stems.
- Add the wine, onion, celery, parsley stems, bay leaves, and thyme to the pan; bring to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water and return the veal to the pan; bring just to a boil, reduce the heat to low to keep a gentle simmer, and cook, covered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of veal reads 135°F, about 40 minutes.
- Transfer the veal to a plate to cool; ideally, cover and chill it overnight, although this isn’t strictly necessary. You won’t use the broth in this dish, but discarding it seems a shame; strain it and reserve for another use, such as adding to a soup or stew.
- Put half each of the capers and parsley with the vinegar, anchovies, egg, tuna, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Use a microplane or other fine zester to zest about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest into the mix. Whirl until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until sauce is emulsified. Add lemon juice and/or salt to taste. Cut the veal across the grain into thin slices and arrange on a platter; top with the sauce or serve the sauce alongside for diners to add as they like, knowing that traditionally this is served heavily sauced! Garnish with the remaining capers and parsley, if you like.