Airsta tonnata is a play on the original dish of vitello tonnato from Piedmont. In the 19th century, when Vitello Tonnato first began appearing in cook books, Piedmont was allied with coastal Liguria, where tuna was canned. Along with the tuna trade, oil, lemons and capers, all the other elements of the tonnato sauce, also made their way into Piedmont. Originally the tonnato sauce did not have mayonnaise, that has certainly been and 20th century addition, before the tuna would likely have been pounded with the capers, and herbs, olive oil and lemon juice to give it a creaminess. Mayonaise in a way, is in a way cheating, but cheating with delicious results.
The lightness and delicate meat of the roasted veal is paired with a light sauce of capers, anchovies, mayonnaise, lemon and tuna. It is a cold dish, perfect towards the end of summer or start of fall, it is served as a main course, or as an exceedingly elegant antipasto for and elaborate dinner. This dish works however perfect with Arista (roasted pork) and brings in a Tuscan favourite with a sauce from the north and gives it a new life in central Italy.
— 1kg pork loin
— 1 carrot
— 1 onion
— 1 celery stalk
— 2 garlic cloves
— 1 fennel
— Salt and pepper
— Extra virgin olive oil
— 2 egg yolks
— 4 anchovy fillets
— 150ml light olive oil
— 125g can tuna slices in oil, drained
— 1 tbsp capers
— 60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
- Trim and clean your pork loin, removing any excess fat, using kitchen string truss your meat so it will hold shape when cooking.
- Preheat your oven to 150c, in a large cooking tray add chopped carrot, onion, celery, fennel and garlic to create a bed for your loin. Season your loin with salt, pepper and olive oil and in a large pan on high heat, brown your meat on all sides, until you have a nice golden colour all over.
- To make tonnato sauce, first prepare mayonnaise. Process egg yolks and anchovies in a food processor until smooth. With the motor running, gradually add oil, drop by drop at first, until the mixture begins to thicken, then in a thin, steady stream until thick and emulsified (you can do this by hand using a metal bowl and whisk). Add tuna, capers and lemon juice to mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper, and process until smooth.
- Slice your roasted pork loin thinly and arrange around a plate, then spread your tonnato sauce over the top, arrange some capers and lemon slices, and finish with extra virgin olive oil.