Turkey tonnato

Turkey tonnato

Poached turkey with tuna mayonnaise

The 12 Days of Christmas
Mark Roper

A visitor to Italy will often be offered vitello tonnato, a cold dish of poached veal with a mayonnaise-type sauce made with canned tuna, anchovies and mayonnaise – it’s delicious! For a light lunch it is perfect made with turkey breast instead of veal and served with a lightly dressed green salad. This is a perfect choice for a Christmas buffet table or cold Christmas dinner.


Quantity Ingredient
2.2kg turkey breast
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered
handful continental parsley sprigs
1 small bay leaf
1 lemon, rinded
watercress sprigs or chopped continental parsley, to garnish

Tuna mayonnaise

Quantity Ingredient
185g can tuna in oil, drained
4 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup baby capers, drained
3/4 cup mayonnaise
lemon juice, to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season


  1. Roll the turkey to make a neat oval parcel and tie into a good shape with kitchen string at 3 cm intervals. Place the turkey breast in a large saucepan with the carrot, celery, onion, parsley and bay leaf then add just enough water to cover. Bring slowly to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the meat to cool in the liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, make tuna mayonnaise by processing the tuna, anchovies, 2 tablespoons of the capers and 2 tablespoons of the cold turkey cooking liquid to a paste in a food processor. Add to a bowl with the mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Add enough lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. If necessary, add a little more cooking liquid to make a coating consistency.
  3. Cut the turkey into thin slices, arrange on a platter and spoon over the tuna mayonnaise. Sprinkle with the remaining capers, grated lemon rind and watercress sprigs or parsley to serve.


  • The beauty of this dish is that it can be made well ahead of time.
The 12 Days of Christmas
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