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)
- Clean meat of fat. In a large pot, sear meat for a couple minutes on each side.
- 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.
- Allow meat to cool in the liquid. Take meat out and cut into very thin slices with an electric knife or a sharp knife.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Arrange sliced meat on a large platter and cover with the sauce. Sprinkle capers on top.
- Grate the remaining whites of the hard-boiled eggs, and sprinkle around the meat on the edges of the platter.
- 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.