For those unfamiliar with tonnato, it’s a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce made with tuna. The most infamous use of tonnato is served over cold veal slices. Yes, you heard right. You’re probably recoiling in horror and revulsion right now. However, as with many things in the epicurean world, certain flavor profiles sound outlandish and abysmal, but are truly extraordinary. Meet, vitello tonnato, a dish originating from the Piedmontese region – these two perfect strangers, veal and tuna, meet and the result is this decadent and exceedingly sophisticated antipasto served on special family gatherings.
Best made the day in advance to allow the flavors to marry, a veal round is typically braised, cooled and after it’s been thinly sliced, the tonnato sauce is poured over and served with capers.
Don’t knock it till you have tried it. Remember the first time someone took you to a sushi restaurant and the thought of eating raw fish was nauseating and after tying it, sushi was your new best friend? My point exactly.
The basic ingredients to tonnato are capers, good grade quality tuna, anchovies, lemon juice, olive oil and mayo. The mayo is what makes takes it over the top, but egg yolks can be used. Tonnato is one of those adaptable sauces that goes well on anything. It pairs beautifully with roasted veggies, adorns a pork loin, served alongside roasted, turkey breast. Not to mention in a sandwich as a spread or as dipping sauce with a crudité platter.
PORK LOIN WITH TONNATO SAUCE
One 1 LB pork tenderloin
Fresh cracked pepper
4 TBSP lemon juice
½ TSP kosher salt
2 egg yolks
½ cup of olive oil
½ cup of safflower oil
1 TSP Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 TSP capers
2 anchovy filets – chopped
1 can of good tuna packed in olive oil – drained and rough chopped
PRE HEAT OVEN 250F
Season the pork loin with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper and rub it well with olive oil. Place it in a foil lined cookie sheet and roast for about 30 minutes and an instant thermometer reads 140F.
In a skillet, add some olive oil and brown the pork on all sides after you have removed it from the oven. Set aside and refrigerate at least 7 hours, for easy slicing.
Inside the cup provided with an immersion blender, add the egg yolks, mustard, 2 TBSP lemon juice, capers, anchovies and the oils. Insert the immersion blender all the way to the bottom of the cup and turn on bringing the blender up and down slowly until the mayo is formed. Add the tuna and the remaining 2 TBSP of lemon juice and blend to incorporate and create a smooth sauce. Adjust seasonings as the anchovies and tuna will have salt.
Remove the pork from the fridge and slice thinly against the grain. Place on a platter, spread the pork with the tonnato mayo and cover with some plastic wrap and return to the fridge. Allow it to chill for about 4 hours, as the flavors will improve. Serve chilled or at room temperature.