Vitello Tonnato

Cold Veal with Tuna Mayonnaise


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This is a real summer favourite all over Lombardy and other areas of north-west Italy, where you can always find this dish ready-made at good delicatessens when the weather gets hot. Although the combination of boiled meat and tuna mayonnaise might seem a little odd, when put together in this way it makes a very special dish. It needs only a green salad and some pickles to make a lovely meal. Don’t serve the dish too cold or it will lose its delicate flavour. Start preparations the day before and allow it to come to room temperature.


  • 900 g/2 lb veal fillet joint
  • 600 ml/1 pint/ cups veal or chicken stock
  • green salad, capers, gherkins and lemon wedges, to serve
  • chopped parsley, to garnish

For the Marinade

  • 750 ml/ pints/3 cups dry white wine
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 bay leaves, chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper

For the Sauce

  • 300 g/11 oz thick mayonnaise, (see Cook’s Tip)
  • 185 g/ oz canned tuna in olive oil, drained and finely flaked
  • 200 g/7 oz capers preserved in salt or vinegar, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. First, make the marinade. Set aside 175 ml/6 fl oz/¾ cup of the white wine and pour the rest of the wine into a bowl. Add all the other marinade ingredients to the wine and mix together.
  2. Lay the joint of veal in a deep bowl. Pour the marinade over the meat and leave it to stand in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. The next day, lift the meat from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and wrap it in muslin or cheesecloth. Tie it up tightly using kitchen string or twine, then lay it in a deep pan.

  4. Pour the marinade and the stock over the meat and boil it slowly for 1½ hours, or until the veal is completely cooked through. Leave the meat to cool in the marinade.
  5. Take the meat out of the cold marinade and unwrap the muslin. Discard the marinade (or keep it to add to soup or gravy). Slice the meat thinly and arrange on a large platter.

  6. To make the sauce, mix together the mayonnaise with the canned tuna, capers, and the reserved white wine, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the sauce over the sliced meat.

  7. Serve immediately with green salad, capers, gherkins and lemon wedges on the side, and garnish with chopped parsley. Alternatively, chill until required, then garnish just before serving.