Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures
Nothing says hello to the warm-weather months like cool food. Consider this Italian classic: vitello tonnato, or cold, sliced veal. Although it’s traditionally served with veal top round or poached breast of veal, I like it even better with calf tongue. The acidity and salinity of the sauce is perfect with the rich tongue. You will love it. It’s the ultimate surf and turf. In some of my recipes for this dish, I season the sauce with some of the braising liquid or add cayenne, cover the veal with sauce and let it sit overnight, garnish it with more capers... Here, I do none of these things. I love the recipe as is and it’s easier than all the others without sacrificing any complexities or nuance. Is it Italian? You bet. I am really tired of people hammering away at chefs who bring in new ingredients to a classic dish, criticizing it as inauthentic. First, who cares? If it tastes good, it’s a good dish. Second, Italian food is predicated on freshness, simplicity, regional relevance and seasonality. This dish has it all in spades and remains true to the original concept. Get over it, people. Whew.—Andrew Zimmern
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves
6 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 cups dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper
One 2-pound calf tongue
One 4-ounce jar Italian oil-packed tuna, drained
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Chopped kalamata olives, for garnish
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving
How to Make It
In a large pot, combine the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, wine and 12 cups of water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the tongue and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until tender, about 2 hours. Remove the pot from the heat and let the tongue stand in the liquid until slightly cooled, about 45 minutes. Using a paring knife, peel and trim the tongue. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the tuna with the anchovies, capers and lemon juice and process until finely chopped. Add the oil and mayonnaise and process until smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape the sauce into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.
Slice the tongue crosswise into 1/3-inch medallions and transfer to plates. Spoon some of the sauce over the tongue medallions and garnish with the olives and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges, the rest of the sauce at the table.
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