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Alessandro Pavoni's Vitello Tonnato recipe

Alessandro Pavonis vitello tonnato

Preparation time
30 Minutes
Cooking time
1 Hour
6 as an entree

Often served as an entrée or as part of a spread of dishes, Alessandro Pavoni's Vitello Tonnato is a traditional dish is best enjoyed with a fuller-bodied white, or light-to-medium bodied reds like Pinot Noir, Gamay or Grenache.


500g veal girello

6 sage leaves

1 fresh bay leaf

1 stalk pale inner celery heart

3 cloves

750ml dry white wine

1L water

10g rock salt

3 salted anchovy fillets

20 salted capers, rinsed and dried

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Freshly ground black pepper

Tonnato sauce

4 eggs, boiled for 8 minutes

250g tinned tuna in olive oil, drained

1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp white wine vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon, strained

Recipe by: Alessandro Pavoni

Photography by: John Paul Urizar

Styling by: Michaela Le Compte


1. Place the veal, sage, bay leaf, celery, cloves and wine in a heavy-based stainless-steel saucepan, then cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the veal every 6 hours or so.

2. Remove the veal from the marinade and strain the liquid. Reserve the veal and liquid and discard the remaining solids. Return the veal and liquid to the pan, add the water and salt, and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the anchovies and cook for another 10 minutes.

3. Remove the anchovies from the cooking liquid and set aside. Set the veal aside, in the liquid, covered, for 30 minutes.

4. For the tonnato sauce: Remove the yolks from the eggs, discarding the whites or reserving them for another purpose. Place the yolks, tuna, oil, vinegar, lemon juice and reserved anchovies in a blender and blend until smooth, adding a little of the veal cooking liquid if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate until needed. 

5. Heat vegetable oil for deep-frying in a small heavy-based saucepan and deep-fry the capers for 1 minute or until crisp, then drain on paper towel.

6. Slice the veal very thinly (about 1mm thick), arrange on a platter and pour the tonnato sauce over the top. Sprinkle with pepper to taste, garnish with the capers and serve. 

Wine Match: 

Gamay or Grenache

Preparation time
30 Minutes
Cooking time
1 Hour
6 as an entree