Vitello Tonnato

Fish and Meat

Who came up with the idea to combine veal, tuna, anchovy, mayonnaise and capers?
The story goes that in the 19th century veal was prepared as if it was tuna. Sounds a bit far fetched, but tuna wasn’t eaten raw (at least not in Europe) but cooked in water with various herbs and then stored in brine or oil. Tha approach to prepare veal as if it is tuna was described in 1836 by the French Monsieur Burnet in his recipe Manière de donner au veau l’apparence et le goût du thon mariné.
In 1862 (according to Luca Cesari) a medical doctor from Milan was the first to combine tuna and veal.

Anchovy

Not a remarkable ingredient at all!
(Salted) anchovy has been used as a flavour booster in meat dishes and sauces for many centuries. For instance in the combination of leg of lamb with anchovy and garlic it will bring depths, umami and saltiness. When making a remoulade sauce you should not forget to add anchovy. And why not prepare a wonderful French Anchoiade? Or dip your vegetables in Bagna Cauda? And let’s not forget the joy of crusted bread with Tapénade (black olives, capers, garlic, anchovy and olive oil). What would a classic Caesar salad or a salade Niçoise taste like without the anchovies in the dressing? Such a useful fish!

Wine Pairing

The obvious choice is to drink a glass of Italian white or rosé wine with the vitello tonnato. A fresh wine, with a touch of acidity and not too complex, for instance a Bardolino Chiaretto or a Soave.

What You Do (Classic approach)

Given the origin of Vitello Tonnato the meat should be cooked in water with carrots, onion, leek, clove, bay leaf, thyme and pepper. The trick is not to cook it too long; you want a touch of pink in the meat when it is served. Keep some of the cooking juices to add to the sauce later on.
Create the mayonnaise by mixing egg yolks, lemon and a neutral oil (peanut or grape seed oil).

What You Need

  • 150 gram of Veal (top side or silver side)
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • 75 gram of canned Tuna (in brine)
  • 1 Anchovy fillet (or 2 depending on your preference)
  • Lemon
  • Capers (in brine)

What You Do

We prefer to fry the meat, even if it’s historically and culinary incorrect. We think frying is quicker and gives you more control over the cuisson. Plus we feel that cooking the meat means losing flavours.
Fry the meat in a heavy iron skillet in some butter and olive oil. Not too hot! Sear the meat, lower the temperature and fry the meat until nicely rosé. Transfer the meat to a sheet of aluminium foil and let rest until lukewarm or cool. Wrap the foil around the meat, let cool and transfer to the refrigerator.
Just before serving, blender the tuna, the anchovy, a few capers, the juices from the meat (in the foil) and some lemon juice until completely smooth. Add some mayonnaise to a bowl, add a spoonful of the mixture and taste. Continue until you have the right balance. Thinly slice the veal, serve on a plate and top with the sauce. Make sure some of the meat is still visible. Decorate with the capers.

Vitello Tonnato © cadwu
Vitello Tonnato © cadwu

Insalata Caprese

Tomatoes

In 2013 the German culinary press characterised Dutch tomatoes as ‘wasserbomben’, let’s say ‘water balloons’. And they were right. Even more so, many tomatoes were, and still are, tasteless and watery. And since the Netherlands are in the top 3 of tomato exporting countries, you run the risk of buying a red balloon. Which is of course not what you want to do. So if you plan to make one of the simplest and tastiest starters ever, you have to find the best tomatoes ever. Or grow your own of course.

Mozzarella

Meaning Buffalo mozzarella, made from the milk of the Italian buffalo. Since 1993 it’s a DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) and protected under EU law. It’s a young, moist, tasty cheese with a lovely soft, elastic but not chewy texture and it comes with a skin as a result of the shaping and pickling. The taste is more robust than mozzarella made from cow milk and it’s ideal for a salad. The cow version is best used for cooking. The smoked version should be ignored.

Basil

Someone should write ‘The Case of the Dying Basil’. A whodunit in which a clever detective will reveal why the basil plant you buy from the green grocer or supermarket will very likely die within 3 days, regardless what you do. And since they always die on us, we buy ‘fresh’ leaves.
The most used variety of basil is sweet or Genovese basil. Others are Thai basil (slightly spicy with a hint of anise) and red (or purple) basil (similar to sweet basil but more powerful). Alain Passard’s book Collages et Recettes includes a recipe for purple carrots with purple basil and cinnamon. Wonderful colours and a delicate taste.

Insalata Caprese

This salad stands or falls on the quality of the ingredients. And it requires the talent to keep things simple, so you have to stick to the 5 (five!) ingredients, meaning tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil and pepper. The salad does not come with balsamic vinegar, lettuce, pineapple nuts, salt, honey, croutons, oregano, mustard or a vinaigrette. Five ingredients. That’s it.
You wonder why? Because this way the Insalata Caprese is at its best. Tasty, sweet, rich, moist, fresh and a reflection of Italy and of summer. Adding an ingredient will worsen the concept of the salad and reduce its taste.

Wine Pairing

We suggest an excellent rosé, one with flavour and depth. For instance Monte del Frà Bardolino Chiaretto 2018. You’re looking for a wine with delicate scents of berries accompanied by light and refreshing hints of green apples and subtle spicy tones. On the palate the wine should reveal juicy sensations of red berries along with an appealing and refreshing acidity.

What You Need

  • Two Excellent Ripe Tomatoes
  • One Ball (125 gram) of Excellent Buffalo Mozzarella
  • Fresh Basil
  • Excellent Olive Oil
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper

What You Do

Slice the tomatoes, slice the mozzarella and create the ‘tricolore’. Add fresh black pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Insalata Caprese © cadwu
Insalata Caprese © cadwu