Sunday, 14 August 2011

Tacchino Tonnato

Last Christmas the English inability to deal with a few inches of slush became apparent when airports closed, trains were cancelled and tail backs stretched for miles.  As we were due to travel down to my Mum's in rural Wiltshire suddenly the prospect of microwaving a couple of frozen roast dinners on Christmas Day seemed a distinct possibility.

Of course, after a long and expensive afternoon emergency food shopping, it turned out that the weather lifted so we could go anyway. Hence the problem months later when we still had a gigantic turkey, taking up most the room in the freezer.  (Not to mention a cupboard full of bread sauce, cranberry relish and two Christmas puddings...) After being endlessly badgered to to cook the monstrous thing I realised the following weekend would be exactly six months between Christmases; the turkey's time was finally up.

Even the Ewing and I, with our gargantuan appetites, would have been hard pressed to not have huge amounts of leftovers.  Luckily turkey and stuffing sandwiches, on soft white bread with lots of salt and butter, are still one of the best things around.  And being the summer it was also a great opportunity to make the elegant, and very simple, Italian dish tacchino tonnato.

Traditionally this is made with slices of cold poached veal, but I've seen rabbit, roast pork, turkey and even squid used.  Valentine Warner makes a lovely looking variation with a mackerel mayonnaise, instead of the more typical tuna.  It's also the traditional centerpiece of Milan's Ferragosto dinner, held on Assumption Day, celebrated on August 15th. As that falls this Monday then it seems perfect timing to make this with any leftover roast meat from the weekend.

Tacchino Tonnato

1 poached turkey breast or leftover slices of cold turkey (or other meat, see above)
1 tin of tuna in oil
2 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp mayo (from a jar is fine)
olive oil
juice of a large lemon
1 tbsp capers
handful of rocket leaves and lemon wedges to serve

First put the the tuna, with its oil, into a processor.  Blend with mayo, lemon juice, anchovies and enough olive oil to get a sauce the consistency of double cream.  Taste for seasoning and chill.
Lay slices of turkey on a large plate and pour sauce over.
Decorate with capers and serve with rocket leaves and lemon wedges.

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