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Chicken Tonnato Recipe

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Bill Spohn

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Chicken Tonnato Recipe

by Bill Spohn » Tue Oct 20, 2020 3:56 pm

Thought I’d post this classic and subtle recipe even though it is a bit out of the big flavour ‘give-me-BBQ-or-give-me-nothing’ popular taste profile.

It is a riff on the oft seen vitello tonnato, veal cutlet served cold, covered in a tuna sauce. This recipe serves four people.

First find really good quality chicken skinless breasts (we found a local organic grower). Make up a poaching liquid by filling a large pan (we used an 11”Cuisinart sauteuse). Fill fairly full of water (you aren’t going to have any boiling over with this recipe) and add ½ onion (I quartered it) a celery stalk with leaves, a handful of parsley sprigs, 6 black peppercorns, and bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 min, before adding the chicken, reducing heat and poaching gently for 8 min., then turn of the heat, put the cover on and leave for 20 min. to finish. Check at the end of that to see if it is fully cooled by making a cut across one of the breasts – there should be no pink.

Combine the following for the sauce:

½ cup mayo (store bought or home made)

¼ cup light cream

3 ¼ oz. Canned tuna (best you can find – we bought it from a local fisherman at an open market. He line catches and cans under his own label.

5 tinned anchovies, drained and chopped

1 tbsp. Capers (I lightly chop the large ones)

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Slice the breasts and serve on separate plates or one large plate, covered in the sauce.
SWMBO raved about it (which she rarely does) and it was a perfect match with a good chardonnay. Excellent summer lunch or possibly a small course in a multicourse meal, served with a bit of green salad on the side.

The stock shouldn’t be discarded, BTW – it is delicious and I opted to have it frozen for later use, but when I went to do it, my sous chef seemed to have drunk it all up like soup.
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Re: Chicken Tonnato Recipe

by Jenise » Thu Oct 22, 2020 12:17 pm

How clever to use chicken breasts. I've long since abandoned veal (which is nonexistent in my neck of the woods) for pork loin, which sous vided to a perfect 135, results in a gorgeous pale medium pink and if shaved on a meat slicer (yes I have one) turns out a dead-on veal facsimile. In fact the meat's so pretty, I fluff it into a pile and serve that atop the sauce, not the other way around though I realize that's traditional. However I could never serve that to my brother, who does not eat pork in any form. Your chicken substitute would put this dish back in my orbit--he'd LOVE everything else about a tonnato!

Glad to hear you're becoming a customer of sustainable foods and suppliers.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bill Spohn

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Re: Chicken Tonnato Recipe

by Bill Spohn » Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:05 pm

Jenise wrote:Glad to hear you're becoming a customer of sustainable foods and suppliers.


Yes, I have forsworn truffle studded larks tongues for the duration! :mrgreen:
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Chicken Tonnato Recipe

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:12 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Yes, I have forsworn truffle studded larks tongues for the duration! :mrgreen:

The horned lark, which is the only species of lark in North America, is in the 'least concerned' status. So, you really should eat larks instead of ortolans. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Chicken Tonnato Recipe

by Bill Spohn » Thu Oct 22, 2020 5:47 pm

Only problem is that as I get older and slower the little birds seem to get faster and faster. Heck, if I was as fast as I used to be, I'd be asking for recipes for squirrel stew, as we have a plethora of the bushy tailed rats around here - we never see a single walnut from our tree.

Many of the most numerous birds here are inedible or something one wouldn't want to eat, like mergansers and bald eagles. We have a lot of crows that no one likes, but I don't hear anyone raven about eating crow! Actually, you don't want to mess with crows - they have an excellent memory and seem to retaliate for things thrown at them but crapping on your lawn furniture (or head) or in some cases dive-bombing you. I hesitate to give them any caws for action.

They intentionally pester the eagles, which are slower to turn than they are, but once in awhile an eagle snags one and it is an instant ex-crow.
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Re: Chicken Tonnato Recipe

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Oct 22, 2020 7:54 pm

Do you find instant ex-crow to be as good as the freeze-dried kind?
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Re: Chicken Tonnato Recipe

by Bill Spohn » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:17 pm

Jeff Grossman wrote:Do you find instant ex-crow to be as good as the freeze-dried kind?


As a lawyer, it would be against our code to eat crow! :lol:
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Re: Chicken Tonnato Recipe

by Christina Georgina » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:42 pm

Thanks Jenise for the sous vide and slicer aspect. I've used both pork and turkey breast for tonnato and was very unhappy with the texture especially the turkey which I first brined for increased flavor but it shredded instead of sliced. The pork was sliceable but the sous vide would definitely improve texture and flavor. The turkey ended up as a turkey tonnato salad, very tasty in lettuce cups and sandwiches but not what I envisioned at the start.
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