Dish of the Week: Vitel Toné (Veal in Tuna Sauce) From Argentina

Submitted by: Essen 3 weeks ago in Entertainment Lifestyle Misc


This is a traditional Christmas dish in Argentina. Since Christmas happens in the summer in Argentina, their traditional Christmas food is light, cold, and more like a spread rather than the heavy fare we have in the northern hemisphere. (More about Argentine Christmas foods here.)

The dish's origins are in Italy, where it's known as Vitello Tonnato. It is served chilled and has that lovely mix of meat and seafood that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Although vitel toné is served chilled, it shouldn't be made many days in advance. The quality of the steak and its taste is fundamental for success. It doesn't help if you have a legendary sauce on top of a bland and tasteless piece of meat. And the flaws in the meat will be amplified due to the dish being served cold. The dish is much easier to make if you have an electric blender. Without a blender -- well, good luck with that!

Ingredients (excluding the sauce)
  • Beef filet/Round steak,  1-1.5 kg
  • 1 piece peceto, beef or veal round steak, roast eye of round
  • 1 onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 carrot, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped into large pieces
  • ½ bunch parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Optional (white wine)

  1. Clean meat of fat. In a large pot, sear meat for a couple minutes on each side.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, celery, parsley, bay leaf, and cover with water. Add salt to taste. Cook until just tender, about an hour and a half, or 30 minutes in a pressure cooker.
  3. Allow meat to cool in the liquid. Take meat out and cut into very thin slices with an electric knife or a sharp knife.

The Sauce
  • 8 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 cup olive oil (the good stuff)
  • 1 can anchovies (about 10 filets)
  • 2 cans tuna (natural or oil)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Salt and pepper

  1. In a blender, add yolks of 8 hard-boiled eggs and well drained tuna. Add olive oil gradually while blending and blend until obtaining a smooth and homogeneous sauce.
  2. Add about ½ cup of the strained cooking broth and continue blending. Add the mustard, anchovies, mayonnaise, lemon juice and black pepper. Blend until well mixed. If the sauce is not liquid enough, add more broth.

Final Prep and Presentation
  1. Arrange sliced meat on a large platter and cover with the sauce. Sprinkle capers on top.
  2. Grate the remaining whites of the hard-boiled eggs, and sprinkle around the meat on the edges of the platter.
  3. Leave the vitel tone a few hours in the refrigerator so the meat can absorb the flavors. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serve with a nice salad or one of my favorites, seared broccoli or fennel slices.
There are 25 comments:
Male 967
This is almost the antidiet to what I aspire to:  Vegan, no sugar, no oil, no salt.  Admittedly, I am terrible at following the diet, and would try this in a heart beat but...
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Male 46,107
Just got in from my husband's colonoscopy.  We went and pigged out at the
buffet as he hadn't eaten in 2 days he was HUNGRY.  

Okay, that's the only food related comment I got
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Male 7,525
Tuna sauce over cold beef, YIKES..
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Male 293
daegog I had this one as Vitello tonnato in a pizzeria. They served it as a replacement for carpaccio. (they didn't want to serve raw beef for some reason) And it was horrible. When I made it at home it was actually good.
The difference: mine had less sauce on, the meat was served fresh and a bit warmer than fridge temp. 
I would serve the sauce on the side rather than on top for the visual effect.
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Male 10,079
daegog I dunno... think of it as a cold, open-face roast beef sandwich served with some kind of savory sauce.
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Male 10,079
Will this dish help someone lose weight? I'm asking for a friend.

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Male 293
squrlz4ever There are three alternatives:
1) No
2) Yes because low carb
3) Yes because not edible (based on the reactions here)
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Male 10,079
Essen I think I might like it if we just added some toasted acorn crumbles atop it. Seriously, I'd give it a try.

I... I mean my friend... has been having some issues with winter weight gain.
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Male 704
Well, family took it easy this Christmas. We had Chinese Pie + baked macaroni and cheese this year. And I'm 100% certain that I will never try this cold dish with tuna smothered over beef. Especially if Chinese pie and baked macaroni and cheese are offered.
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Male 293
wellsy57 Do you have the recipe/description? I am intrigued :)
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Male 704
Essen my mom's Chinese pie is simply hamburger topped with creamed corn topped with mashed potatoes. Baked macaroni and cheese is just large noodles (my mom uses large elbows, almost cooked all the way) topped with sharp cheddar cheese on top. Baked at 350° for 30 minutes.
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Male 46,107
wellsy57   The Chinese Pie sounds like a poor man's Cottage Pie...which is a poor man's Shepherd's  Pie. 
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Male 704
Gerry1of1 Exactly! Shepherd's pie uses lamb instead of beef.
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Male 293
wellsy57 Is the pie also baked?
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Male 704
Essen Yes.  Top with some butter and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until potatoes start to brown. 
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Male 5,344
wellsy57 Why is it called Chinese pie? Doesn't sound Chinese. 
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Male 704
trimble because that's what my mom called it.
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Male 295
trimble not much of an answer, but it sounds like what is known around here as paté chinois (literal translation "Chinese pâté"; Shepherd's pie with corn).
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Male 10,079
trimble Good question. Dash of soy sauce?
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Male 704
squrlz4ever Mom never added soy sauce, but now I want to try it that way. 
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Male 10,079
wellsy57 Good soy sauce (Kikkoman regular, for example) adds some really delicious flavor to hamburger, vegetables, and potatoes, so it would probably work well as an ingredient. Of course, if you're adding soy sauce to the recipe, you'll want to cut back on any added salt accordingly.

Also, when you open a new bottle of soy sauce, store it in the fridge to preserve the flavors as long as possible. It doesn't have to be refrigerated, but you'll lose a lot of the wonderful flavors if you don't.

(Can you tell I use a lot of soy sauce?)
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Male 704
squrlz4ever * gets jacket to head to the store that sells soy sauce*
Thank you for your in-depth reply.
* reaches for back button because once again he forgot to mark all notifications as read* haha!
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Male 293
I meant Tuna sauce and not "Suna"
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Male 10,079
Essen Fixed. (Thanks -- I was wondering what suna meant in Argentinian Spanish.)
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Male 293
squrlz4ever Hehe. Suna is the ONE thing that you must have. Else, this dish is ruined for life.
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