Vitello Tonnato

Vitello Tonnato

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.
For preparing the tuna sauce in this recipe, a mezzaluna is an efficient tool. Mezzaluna means "half-moon," an apt name for this cutting tool with a crescent-shaped blade. It is held with both hands and used with a rhythmic rocking motion to chop foods uniformly and more quickly, safely and easily than with a chef?s knife. It may be used on a cutting board or in a shallow wooden bowl. For this recipe, rock the mezzaluna blade over the capers and anchovies, without lifting it, until the ingredients are chopped to the consistency of a paste


  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 lb. boneless veal rump
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt, to taste

For the tuna sauce:

  • 2 Tbs. salt-cured capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 olive oil–packed anchovy fillets
  • 1 cup drained olive oil–packed tuna
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbs. salt-cured capers, rinsed and drained


One day ahead, place the cloves on a square of cheesecloth, gather the corners and tie with kitchen string to make a bundle. Combine the wine, vinegar and clove bundle in a large nonaluminum bowl. Add the veal, turn to coat in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight, turning the veal occasionally.

After the veal has marinated, remove and discard the cloves, and transfer the meat and marinade to a large pot. Add the water, season with salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until the veal is tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 hour in the cooking liquid.

To make the tuna sauce, combine the 2 Tbs. capers and the anchovies in a wooden chopping bowl and chop with a mezzaluna until a paste forms. Alternatively, combine the capers and anchovies on a cutting board and chop with a large chef?s knife until a paste forms. Using a fork, flake the tuna into a bowl. Add the anchovy mixture, mayonnaise and lemon zest and blend gently until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the veal from the pot, allowing any excess liquid to drain back into the pot, and place on a cutting board. Cut the veal across the grain into slices 1?8 inch thick. Arrange the slices on a platter, overlapping them, and spread evenly with the tuna sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley, bell pepper and 1 Tbs. capers. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours before serving.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Italian, by Pamela Sheldon Johns (Simon & Schuster, 2003).
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