The “other” vitello tonnato: The Lombard quotient

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One of the most rewarding experiences in blogging for me has been its hypertextual nature and the connections I’ve made with people across the globe through writing, reading, commenting, and social media sharing. Today’s post comes from Francesco Bonfio, former winemaker and former president of Vinarius, the Italian association of wine shop owners.

The current manager, buyer, and curator of the Nannini wine shop in Siena, he is a good friend and one of the foremost experts in the world — in my view — on Italian wine and food.

He shared these insights into a parallel tradition of vitello tonnato (translation mine)…

Click here for our previous entries in our vitello tonnato series.

It’s interesting to note that there are actually two traditional recipes for vitello tonnato, each of them a classic.

The first of these is Piedmontese in origin and it is the one that is more widely known. And then there is the Lombard version.

The most important difference lies in the fact that in the Lombard, or better yet, Milanese version, the veal is cooked slowly in a vegetable and herb soffritto to which tuna, chopped capers, and olive oil-cured anchovies are added before the veal (ideally, flank as opposed to round).

This allows the veal to cook in the vegetable and tuna sauce and absorb the better part of the tuna’s flavor.

When the veal is done cooking, it is set aside.

The sauce in which it has cooked (and to which the veal has, in turn, imparted its flavor) is then reduced until the desired sauce consistency is obtained.

This method is all but forgotten today because it takes four-times as long to prepare it as it does for Piedmontese vitello tonnato. But it also the host to serve it hot, room temperature, or cold depending on personal preference, the season, and the menu itself.

It should be sliced with a thickness of roughly a half centimeter then served in its sauce and accompanied by boiled new potatoes.

Francesco Bonfio
Nannini, Siena

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