What’s in your pantry?

A while ago, a box of fancy tuna entered our pantry. I honestly don’t know where I gleaned it from – not your usual Chicken of the Sea or Charlie tuna. Constant Companion was instructed not to choose it when foraging for something to eat, please.

The tuna

Somewhere in the depths of my memory of restaurant dining in the distant past I remembered enjoying vitello tonnato, thinly sliced veal in a creamy tuna sauce. The can stashed on the top shelf of the pantry was just for that, though I’d never made it, and it’s been a long while since we’d had veal in our kitchen. Back to my friend “Google” for a recipe I could handle.

Sautéed chicken breasts from the depths of the freezer was a good substitute for the rare veal. What a lovely dinner we had.

Sauteed chicken, with a little salt and pepper

Tonnato: Combine a 7 ounce jar or can of oil-packed tuna with its oil, with 2/3 cup mayonnaise,* 6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, 1 egg yoke, 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice, and 2 tbsp drained capers. Blend until completely smooth – in other words, emulsified. Add a pinch of cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. Note: I think 2 tablespoons of capers made the sauce too salty.

Spoiler alert. My sauce did not emulsify; oil on top, solids below. We just dredged up the solids and enjoyed them on the chicken. While CC and Daughter continued talking at the dinner table, I brought out my trusty little whisk and whisked til it was all beautifully combined. Just right, like in the restaurant.


*Because our household is small and we do not frequently use mayonnaise; a jar of Hellman’s (preferred brand) lasts quite a while. I make my own using a recipe from Saveur: https://www.saveur.com/article/recipes/20-second-mayo/.

Mayonnaise: Place 1 ½ tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, ½ tsp. salt, 1 egg and 2 cups of canola oil into to a tall, slender container. Lower your immersion blender to the bottom of the container. Purée for 3 seconds and slowly pull blender up, swirling and incorporating the oil until fully incorporated or emulsified, 17-20 seconds. It keeps for about a month.

In those really long ago days of Peace Corps in Jamaica, I started making mayonnaise in a blender, using the Joy of Cooking recipe. I mentioned this one day to a Jamaican friend. Her mom perked up because this was one commodity rarely found on the store shelves. A jar of mayonnaise made a much appreciated Christmas gift that year!


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