Tag Archives: Veal

VITELLO TONNATO

We have been having such beautiful autumn weather here in Melbourne, perfect for Sunday lunches and picnics. In the northern hemisphere some of you are experiencing spring weather, so you can enjoy the following dish as well.

Vitello tonnato (vitello = veal, tonno = tuna, tonnato = refers to the style of cooking or preparation) is a perfect dish for this sort of occasion. It can be prepared the day before or assembled in the morning to allow the flavours to combine but what I particularly like, is that I can drink and talk and laugh and eat with my guests rather than being busy in the kitchen!!

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What is also important is that I can buy pole-caught, sustainable, tinned tuna from Aldi. Now isn’t that good?

There are various ways to make vitello tonnato. Several recipes boil the veal, I have always pot-roasted it – my mother always did and this method of cooking the veal intensifies the flavours. Some cooks use the vegetables and jellied stock to combine with the tuna, capers and anchovies to make the sauce; others add egg yolk from hard boiled eggs to the sauce. I combine the jelled sauce from the pot roast and some of the vegetables with the tuna, anchovies and capers with egg mayonnaise – this is also what my mother always did. It makes the sauce smoother and more creamy. I do this way because I like the taste of it and not because it’s how my mother did.

Some say that vitello tonnato originated in Piemonte (Piedmont) and maybe this is why my Piedmontese aunt, who lived in Genova, used to make it for us (she was married to my uncle, my dad’s Sicilian brother – what a culinary combination that was!). Maybe it did originate in Piemonte, but as a child growing up in Trieste in the 50’s it was often an acceptable entrée on special occasions.

One thing is certain, vitello tonnato obviously gets around. A variation using chicken (pollo) is served in the Sicilian port of Messina as pollo alla Messinese.

For this recipe see:

Pollo Alla Messinese (a Cold Chicken Dish Similar to Vitello Tonnato From Messina)

INGREDIENTS
For the pot roasted veal:
girello, (topside or nut, or silver side of yearling veal – girello is lean) 800g-1k
extra virgin oilive oil, ½-¾ cup
onion, carrot, celery stick, 1 of each, left whole
white-wine, 1 cup
salt, black pepper,  to taste
broth, 1 cup, or broth cube dissolved in 1 cup water
bay leaves, sage leaves, sprig of rosemary

For the Sauce:
canned tuna in oil 200 g
anchovy fillets, 2
capers, 2 tablespoons
mayonnaise, 1½ cups (see link below)
jellied stock – the liquid the meat was cooked in, 1 cup
vegetables: ½ of the cooked onion or cooked celery or carrot, some of the sage leaves – it all depends on the consistency. The sauce cannot be runny , it should be smooth but thick.

PROCESS
Lightly sauté the veal (in one piece) in the hot oil. Add everything else, Cover and simmer over a low heat for 1½ – 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
Leave everything to cool until you are ready to assemble it.
And this is what I like about this dish, I often cook the veal the day before. Sometimes I have eaten the veal as a pot roast (hot) and used the left over veal to make vitello tonnato – depending on how much veal you have left, you could prepare an entrée or lunch for 2 people.

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Make the egg mayonnaise.
For this recipe see:

Maionese (mayonnaise)

Process the drained tuna with the rest of the ingredients until it is smooth, – I use a blender, mixing through the mayonnaise last of all.

To assemble the dish:
Remove the meat from the pan with the vegetables and the jellied juices. Slice the meat thinly.
Arrange one layer of the meat on a serving dish and spoon over some of the tuna sauce.  Continue to do this, building up the layers until the meat runs out (no more than 3-4 layers).
Garnish the vitello tonnato with capers, anchovies or slices of hard-boiled eggs or as the on this occasion, slices of carrot from the pot-roast.
Leave for a few hours if not overnight for the flavours to mingle before serving.
Slice it – use a sharp knife. Using a spatula, lift it onto plates like a cake.

Serve it a green salad, or one made with cooked green beans, good bread – complete!

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SICILIAN MEAT OLIVES (Alivuzzi di carni-Olivette di carne)

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Braciola (singular)

 

Two of my most visited posts are the recipes for Braciole (Meat rolled around a stuffing) and Polpettone (large meat roll made with mince meat and with a stuffing).

Polpettone 4

There are many similar recipes of meat rolled around a stuffing, for example the Sicilian farsumagru (falsomagro, in Italian), involtini – or you may know them as saltimbocca or salti in bocca. Smaller  in size are are ucelletti or ucellini (both words mean little birds in Italian) and olivette (little olives).

I found a recipe called Alivuzzi Di Carni (Sicilian for Olivette di Carne – meat olives) in my copy of Cucina Nostra by Maria Consoli Sardo, published in 1978, 1 edition.

olivette ready to fry

 

Translating recipes from the Italian always requires a poetic licence – ingredients, times, quantities are often missing, but the following cooking method and amounts of ingredients works for me.

INGREDIENTS
veal or young beef steaks 700g,
white wine, 1 cup
celery, parsley, onion, equal quantities of each to amount to ¾ cup, cut finely
salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
hot water, ½ cup
For the stuffing:
salame, sliced thinly 150g
formaggio fresco, 150g
pine nuts,150g
spring onion,1, finely chopped

 

PROCESSES
Trim and pound the steaks to about 5mm thick, each 5-6cm in size.
Spread some of the stuffing over each steak. Roll the steak around the filling and secure with netting (I use a toothpick or string). Sprinkle each olivetta (singular for small olive) with salt and finely ground pepper.
Place the olive oil in a large frypan and sauté the celery, parsley, onion until softened (over medium-high heat).
Add the rolls and lightly fry them until lightly browned on all sides.
Add wine to hot pan and evaporate for a few minutes.
Add water and cook gently with a lid until cooked.

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VITELLO ARROSTO (Roast Veal)

When we first arrived in Australia, we lived in Adelaide and one of the favourite things that my mother cooked when we had guests, was vitello arrosto (roast veal).

It was not vitello as we had been used to in Trieste (veal which was very pale in colour and young), however, we were very fortunate to have a good Hungarian butcher who did his best to supply us with cuts of meat that we were better acquainted with.

When I was a teenager I often had friends who came to stay and I used to tell them that what we were eating was roast veal, they were confused. Firstly because it was not roast lamb (my mother thought the lamb as pecorona – ultra big sheep), but secondly because it was not roast cooked in the oven, so why did we call it roast?

Ovens were not commonly used, baking was not common, but wet roasting was, and if you look at recipes for vitello arrosto you will find that the most common way of cooking it is in a pan with a close fitting lid on top of the stove. The juices do not dry out and the roast will be tender and very flavourful.

This is not a recipe my Sicilian relatives cooked – their arrosto was cooked slowly in the oven, with onions, a little tomato, bay leaves and usually with potatoes. This was also moist and cooked for some of the time partly covered. The photo was taken in Sicily; the cut of meat that my relatives often use for a boneless roast is called a reale.

Ask your butcher for a piece of veal that you can roast.  A girello is suitable, but it is more likely to be yearling beef (most Australian butchers label this piece of meat as such, if not it is also called silverside – but not pickled). A leg of veal is also suitable, but it will be gelatinous and not every one likes this.

The pan often called a Dutch oven, is a good shape to use for vitello arrosto.

INGREDIENTS
roasting veal in one piece of 1.5 – 2 kg
extra virgin olive oil, ½ – ¾ cup
white wine,  up to 2 cups or 1 cup wine, 1 cup stock
onion, 1 cut into quarters
carrots, 3, leave whole
fresh rosemary, sage and whole garlic cloves to stud the meat
salt and pepper to taste
PROCESSES
Make holes in the meat (use a sharp, thin knife) and stud the meat with the flavourings – use separate flavours for each hole.
Heat the oil, brown the meat well on all sides.
Pour in 1 cup of the wine and evaporate.
Add the onion and carrots, a few more sprigs of rosemary and sage, salt and pepper.
Cover and cook over low heat for about 1½ hours, but keep on adding a little more wine (or stock) so that the meat is kept moist and does not stick to the bottom of the pan (add extra water or stock if necessary).

When the meat is cooked, cut the roast into thin slices and serve it with the sauce (I always include the bits of onion and carrots, some cooks use a mouli to passare (grind/ mash) the vegetables into the sauce.

My mother always presented the veal with spinach sauteed in butter and nutmeg and patate in teccia…but these are part of another story.

PATATE as a contorno (Two recipes for ‘squashed’ potatoes, Patate in tecia).