Veal in a Tuna Fish Sauce

Vitello Tonnato

This is a great Piedmontese favourite of mine for outdoor summer lunches on those rare occasions when we actually get a summer in England! It is a dish that never fails to create a good impression. I serve it with three or four different salads, including a potato salad and some tender green beans in a vinaigrette dressing. The quantities given below may easily be increased to feed a larger party, but remember that a very big joint of veal easily dries out if roasted whole, so it is best cut into two or more pieces.


  • 4 tablespoons plus about 10 fl oz (300 ml) olive oil
  • lb (750 g) best-quality roasting veal, in a single piece
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 8 celery leaves
  • 2 eggs or 2 egg yolks
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 heaped tablespoons capers, drained but not rinsed (if in vinegar) and finely chopped
  • 7 oz (200 g) canned tuna fish in oil, drained and flaked
  • 2 anchovies preserved in salt, cleaned, boned and finely chopped or 4 canned anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped capers, lemon slices, parsley sprigs and olives to garnish


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Heat the 4 tablespoons oil in a large frying-pan, put in the meat and seal on all sides. Take the meat out of the pan and lay it in a roasting-tin with the wine, salt, pepper, bay leaves, garlic and celery leaves. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, basting occasionally. Remove the meat from the roasting-tin and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make a basic mayonnaise with 2 whole eggs if using a food processor (or with 2 egg yolks only if working by hand), up to 10 fl oz (300 ml) oil and the lemon juice. Stir in the vinegar, capers, tuna and anchovies. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut the cooled, cooked meat into neat, thin slices and arrange them on a serving platter. Pour over the sauce to cover completely, garnish with capers, lemon slices, parsley sprigs and olives if you wish and chill until required.