Vitel toné (also spelled vitel thoné or vitel tonné), a classic element of holiday spreads at Christmas and
New Year’s celebrations in Argentina, fulfills the Argentines’ craving for meat
with a dish that manages to be flavorful, yet on the lighter side, when the
mercury rises during the southern hemisphere summer.
A massive wave of Italian immigration at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century made a profound impact on Argentina’s culture, language and, of course, cuisine. Immigrants from “The Boot” brought this dish, known as vitello tonnato in Italian, with them from their homeland. The dish originated in the Lombardy and Piedmont regions of northern Italy in the 19th century. Today, vitel toné enjoys widespread acceptance throughout Argentina.
Usually served as a cold appetizer, vitel toné consists of slices of veal in a tuna sauce. It’s generally garnished with capers, but some like to dress up the dish further with chopped hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped pickles, and/or olives. While veal and tuna may seem like an odd pairing, I assure you that the creamy and slightly tangy sauce really does complement the meat, and the assertive flavors of tuna and anchovy are mellowed by the cream and the mayonnaise. Give vitel toné a try, and savor some of Argentina’s Italian heritage in every bite.
This recipe was originally published by me on the website Hispanic Kitchen.