Monday, April 13, 2015

Tonnato Sauce – Not Just for Cold Veal Anymore

Some things sound really amazing the first time you hear about them, and other things, like this tonnato sauce, really don’t. I was probably in my early twenties when this first appeared on my culinary radar as, “vitello tonnato.” At the time, a plate of cold, thinly-sliced poached veal dressed with a chilled, runny tuna sauce didn’t make a lot of sense, but I tried it anyway, and have been a fan ever since.

I don’t often serve it with the traditional veal, as in never, but ironically that’s the only thing I don’t serve it with. It’s tremendous as a spread, and equally impressive as an all-purpose, all-world dip. You can also turn any basic potato salad into the stuff of legends...well, at least picnic legends.

I have to give credit where credit's due, and admit I stole the idea for my "tonnato tartare tartine" from one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, Bar Tartine. They do it much better, but even my primitive version was incredible, so if you're into that kind of thing, I highly recommend it.

As I said in the clip, there are only a few ingredients, and they're all “to taste,” so you should expect to adjust. I like mine with lots of everything, plus some garlic and cayenne, but that’s just me. By the way, in keeping with the spirit of the original dish, if you do happen to have some cold, leftover roast chicken, turkey, or pork, slice it thin, and slather this stuff all over it, and enjoy one of the best cold plates ever. I really hope you give this tonnato sauce a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 2 cups tonnato sauce:
1 (7-ounce) jar olive oil-packed tuna, plus reserved olive oil
6 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons capers, drained
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne

For the spring vegetable topping:
equal parts shaved raw carrot and thinly sliced raw sugar snap peas or snow peas, tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Topped with arugula sprouts or thinly-sliced arugula leaves.

For the raw beef topping:
ice cold diced lean beef (I used eye of round), tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Topped with arugula sprouts or thinly-sliced arugula leaves.


Stefano Bart said...

Can I use crème fraiche instead of mayo and skip the lemon juice?

Anonymous said...

Pre-ground pepper! You B@$$$##!!!

Austin Black said...

Ok! Well first of all I am a huge fan Chef John! I have been following your recipes for about a year now, and I am impressing the socks off of my family and some girls ;)
I definitely trust your technique and your knowledge of food, but with that being said, is it safe to eat raw meat like that beef tartare? Any thoughts?

philogaia said...

Okay that looks amazing. Had not heard of this before. Since I don't eat wheat I looked around for other uses. Seems to be really versatile. Any meat, hard cooked eggs, crudites (really?) steamed veg, heirloom tomatoes (that sounds amazing.)

Did I just write amazing twice? Hmmm.

Eurobo said...

Just completed making this heavenly, sophisticated tuna yum sauce. Awesome! Totally at home on toasted bread!

Bear said...

I had to read the text multiple times to realize that it was not saying "tomato" sauce. I was going nuts: "Where are the tomatoes?"

Lisa M said...

LOL - me too! ;)

Monica said...

Much better than cream cheese for for my cucumber sandwiches.

Grams Pam said...

Made today and served with toasted, multi-grain, crunchy "bark and twigs" kind of bread and totally blew through the roof of my calories for the day in one meal ... could not stop eating it.

Excellent dish! Already liked every ingredient on the list, but not heard of or thought about combining them like this. Will be using this again and again.

Thanks Chef John, for rocking my culinary world again!

GiGi EatsCelebrities said...

I am so making this without the mayo!!!! YUM!!!!!

Lissa Wickham said...

Oh My Goodness! This is so good! I made this tonight as snack, boy did my husband eat it up. I found the olive oil packed yellowfin tuna (by Bumble Bee, I know but it even had Tonno in the name.) I added a little more garlic and lemon, cause that is how I roll. We have a bike ride/picnic this weekend and I am trying to figure out which way to incorporate tonnata. So Manny choices. Thanks again for yet another great food wish.

Wishbone said...

This video was produced by Mad Cow Productions :)
Chef John, you are spot on with SF having the best bread...

Kia Dufun said...

You did it again, chef John! It didn't look appealing to me when you called it tuna smoothie but now that I've seen the video, my mouth is wide open and I'm drooling all over my desk because I crave this! And I don't like anchovies nor capres! Thumbs up! You're the best.

Chicau said...

It's your fault I've become an anchovy, caper and tuna lover. I'm thinking of making these an appetizer on crostini with tartar. Could these be left out for a couple hours and still be ok?


Poupette said...

Hi Chef John! I just made this for an easy lunch on a crunchy sour dough slice. It was divine :) Thanks for the recipe!