People think vitello tonnato is so much work. Well it is, agrees Guy Grossi, but it’s also one of the most beautiful and classic dishes of Italian cucina. This beautiful veal dish is festive and tastes superb when made well.






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (113 votes)



  • olive oil
  • 1 kg young veal girello, (see Note), trimmed of all sinew (trimmings reserved)
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • ½ carrot, roughly chopped
  • sprig of rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 250 ml chardonnay vinegar
  • 250 ml white wine
  • 1 clove
  • handful of juniper berries
  • 1 litre chicken stock, approximately
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Tuna sauce

  • 5 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 500 g good-quality tinned tuna
  • 100 g baby capers
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 250 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • baby capers
  • 1–2 lemons, trimmed of peel and pith and cut into segments
  • rocket leaves
  • shaved parmigiano reggiano
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Heat a little oil in a frying pan and seal the veal on all sides until lightly golden. Transfer to a plate.

Pour a little more oil into the pan and add the veal trimmings, vegetables and herbs. Cook until the trimmings are well browned.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and add the anchovies, vinegar, wine, clove, juniper berries and the veal girello. Add enough stock to cover the veal. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20–30 minutes, until the veal is just cooked. (To check, remove to a plate and insert a skewer – the juices should run clear.)

Once the veal is removed, boil the stock until reduced by half. Stir in the lemon juice then strain the stock through a fine sieve and allow to cool.

To make the sauce, puree the eggs and tuna in a blender, then add the capers and lemon juice and blend briefly. Slowly add the oil with the machine going, then slowly add enough cooled veal stock to make a creamy sauce a little thinner than mayonnaise.

Slice the cooled veal as thinly as you can. Spread half the sauce over the bottom of a serving dish and cover with the veal slices. Spread with the remaining sauce.

To serve, garnish each helping with about 4 baby capers, 2 lemon segments, 3 rocket leaves, some shaved parmigiano reggiano and a sprinkle of parsley.


• Girello is also referred to as veal nut. Check with your butcher as you may need to order it ahead of time.