Vitello Tonnato is one of those dishes that shouldn’t work on paper, yet the unlikely combination of veal, canned tuna and mayonnaise not only works, but is really rather special. Although I do enjoy this Italian classic served as intended (cold, with the veal thinly sliced), I wanted to do a less summery take on the dish, given that temperatures outside are still in the single digits.
This rehash of the original features beautiful veal chops from The Ginger Pig (natch!) – trimmed, with a good amount of fat still clinging on, seasoned then simply seared in a hot pan to a juicy pink medium. The succulent meat is then sliced and placed on a bed of vine tomatoes, then drizzled with tonnato sauce (at room temperature) and topped with rocket. You can easily transform this into a salad, by using a single veal chop (between two) and substituting the handful of rocket with a large bag of mixed greens. Don’t be put off by the amount of mayonnaise that goes into the sauce – you won’t need it all, and the remainder will keep happily for 2-3 days in the fridge. Leftover tonnato sauce works a treat on boiled eggs, certain cold cuts (turkey and chicken), and in sandwiches.
2 veal chops
1 tbsp olive oil
2 ripe vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
a good handful of rocket leaves
freshly ground black pepper
180ml (3/4 cup) mayonnaise (fresh, or store bought)
80g (2.8 oz) white tuna in olive oil, drained
1 large cornichon or gherkin, pat dry
1 heaped tsp capers
2 hard boiled eggs
2 anchovies, drained
a squeeze of lemon juice
dash of white pepper
Place all sauce ingredients (except the lemon juice, salt and pepper) in a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. Season with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat a heavy based pan on a medium high flame. Season the veal chops well on both sides then place on the hot pan, leaving it to cook, untouched, for 2 minutes. Turn them over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes (depending on thickness), until firm but still springs back to touch. Remove the chops from the pan and leave to rest on a warm plate for a couple of minutes. Cut into medium slices.
To assemble your dish first lay the tomato slices on the plate, followed by the veal. Drizzle over the tonnato sauce (sparingly – you can always serve extra separately at the table) and top off with a sprinkle of rocket leaves.
Serve immediately while still warm.