Argentinian Christmas

VITEL TONÉ (Veal with Tuna Sauce)

By Anthony Walsh

This dish is a total ripoff of Piedmontese vitello tonnato—though this version has a bit more vegetable, at least the way I’ve had it, which gives it a bit of a lighter feel.

My wife’s family is Argentinian; she grew up in a one-street, tumbleweed town called Monte Comán. Remember, Christmas there is summertime. It’s fucking hot. They still have asado, their barbecue, obviously because that’s a big thing all the time, and this dish might be served alongside barbecued lechón (piglet) or chivito (a.k.a. baby goat). But this is a special dish because they don’t eat a lot of veal normally.

Moreover, it’s not barbecued. And the sauce is a natural umami bomb—anchovies, tuna, garlic, capers, mayonnaise and eggs. You need to make it an hour or two ahead of time so the sauce and the veal can really come together. So you have this fantastic meat dish but it’s cold and refreshing. It’s not a heavy bloody beef thing. —A.W.

From Canada’s 100 Best Cooking Issue 2016

INGREDIENTS

Serves
8

Veal

  • 1 veal eye of round, about 1.4 kg (3 lb)
  • Salt, pepper
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, sliced, 2.5 cm (1”) rings
  •  1 large carrot, peeled, 2.5 cm (1”) lengths
  • 1 medium white turnip, 2.5 cm (1”) slices
  • 1 small head celeriac, cubed, about 2.5 cm (1”)
  • 2 cloves, crushed
  • 375 ml (1/2 bottle) white wine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 large sprig oregano
  • 500 ml (2 cups) chicken stock

Sauce

  • 150 ml (2/3 cup) mayonnaise
  •  60 ml (¼ cup) drained, olive oil-packed, flaked tuna
  •  2 soft-boiled eggs
  • 10 anchovy fillets, drained
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground aji amarillo (or cayenne pepper)
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

Optional garnish

  • Chopped parsley
  • Sliced pickled vegetables
  • Olives
  • Top-quality extra-virgin olive oil
METHOD

Preheat oven to 120°C (250°F). Season the veal liberally with the salt and pepper. Rest on countertop for 30 minutes before cooking. Heat a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven on medium-high, add half the oil, and when it shimmers, sear the veal until bronzed (do not blacken) on all sides. Set aside on countertop. Lower heat to medium, add half remaining oil (1 tbsp) along with the onion, carrot, turnip, celeriac and garlic. Sauté until lightly browned—about 7 minutes. Add the bay leaf and oregano, season lightly,

Set aside on countertop. Lower heat to medium, add half remaining oil (1 tbsp) along with the onion, carrot, turnip, celeriac and garlic. Sauté until lightly browned—about 7 minutes. Add the bay leaf and oregano, season lightly, raise heat and deglaze with the wine. Reduce by three-quarters, then add the stock. When it boils lower heat to a simmer, add veal and its juices, and sprinkle with remaining olive oil. Taste braising liquid and adjust seasoning. Cover pot tightly with

Taste braising liquid and adjust seasoning. Cover pot tightly with aluminum foil, then its lid, and transfer to the oven. After an hour or so, rotate pot. Cook until veal is tender and its internal temperature has reached 60-65°C

Season the veal liberally with the salt and pepper. Rest on countertop for 30 minutes before cooking. Heat a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven on medium-high, add half the oil, and when it shimmers, sear the veal until bronzed (do not blacken) on all sides. Set aside on countertop. Lower heat to medium, add half remaining oil (1 tbsp) along with the onion, carrot, turnip, celeriac and garlic. Sauté until lightly browned—about 7 minutes. Add the bay leaf and oregano, season lightly, r

Add the bay leaf and oregano, season lightly, raise heat and deglaze with the wine. Reduce by three-quarters, then add the stock. When it boils lower heat to a simmer, add veal and its juices, and sprinkle with remaining olive oil. Taste braising liquid and adjust seasoning. Cover pot tightly with aluminum foil, then its lid, and transfer to the oven. After an hour or so, rotate pot. Cook until veal is tender and its internal temperature has reached 60-65°C VITEL TONÉ (VEAL WITH TUNA SAUCE) Serves 8 (140-150°F)—2½-3 hours.

With a slotted spoon remove vegetables (reserve) and herbs (discard). Allow veal to cool in its braising liquid, then transfer pot to refrigerator to chill—4-6 hours. Slice vegetables, cover and set aside in refrigerator In a blender, combine mayonnaise, tuna, eggs, anchovies, capers, lemon juice, garlic, aji, 2 tbsp of the veal braising liquid and a generous dash of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. If mixture seems too thick, add another tbsp of braising liquid. Once smooth, blend in the olive oil. Taste, and adjust seasonings.

To finish, slice veal 0.5 cm (¼”) thick. Cover base of serving platter with a thin layer of tuna sauce. Arrange veal slices on top, and follow with the rest of the sauce. Scatter reserved vegetables on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, minimum (and up to PHOTO 6 hours). Garnish (if desired) and serve.

Search