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Go cold turkey

In case you’re worried or anxious about the-virus-who-must-not-be-named then I’m here to tell you that things will be fine.


In thousands of years.

For rocks.

Another thing that will be fine is your Boxing Day lunch thanks to turkey tonnato - an alternative recipe that uses up leftover Xmas turkey in a surprisingly delicious way.

This week’s album
James Brown’s Funky Christmas by James Brown

I’m really not one for Xmas songs but, not wanting to be a Grinch, here’s a slightly alternative album. It’s a compilation of the best bits of three previous albums from Brown. Avoiding the usual ‘go-to’ themes of Xmas songs, the album addresses some more serious issues, all backed by Brown’s brilliance.

Quirky turkey

Turkey tonnato is inspired by vitello tonnato (which literally means veal with tuna sauce). Admittedly that sounds more dodgy than a work meeting with cheese, but over the years I’ve learnt that anything you order or eat in Italy is going to taste great.

And so it was on a recent trip I took to Emilia-Romagna… We had tripe (cow’s stomach) at lunch which, despite some initially sceptical looks around the table, was absolutely delicious. Italians - you just have to trust them.

Vitello tonnato is an extremely old school dish. It’s originally from Piemonte but you’ll find it all over Italy.

The veal is slowly cooked, a day ahead, then chilled, sliced, and served with a mayonnaise-type sauce that’s flavoured with tuna. Most traditionally, the sauce is made with hard boiled egg yolks (rather than raw egg yolks that you use to make mayonnaise).

We're replacing the veal with leftover turkey, but this sauce would also work well with cold roast beef. Whichever meat you use, try to slice it as thinly as possible.

The key to this dish is the wonderfully moreish sauce, and this recipe gives instructions on how to make it the most traditional way. It doesn’t take long at all, but if you want to avoid the kitchen then you can use a very good quality mayonnaise instead.

As ever, quality of ingredients is paramount. Try to find tuna in extra-virgin olive oil (you can then use the oil to make the sauce).

Vitello tonnato with radicchio and parmesan... Also delicious.

What you need

The below serves 6. It takes 10 mins to prep, then 10 mins to cook.

400g leftover turkey (thinly sliced)
2 large eggs (room temp)
2 tsps white wine vinegar
200g tinned tuna
(best quality, in olive oil)
6 anchovy fillets
2 tbsps capers, plus extra to garnish 
100ml vegetable oil
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
¼ lemon
(juice only)
Sea salt & black pepper
Rocket leaves to garnish

Ready, steady, cook

1. Carefully add your eggs to boiling water and cook for 10 mins. Remove immediately and add to a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking.

2. Thinly slice your leftover turkey. Breast meat, naturally, is easier to slice. However, the tastier thigh meat will work really well so can be used too. Or just mix both.

3. Now for the sauce (which is best done with a small food processor or stick blender)… Peel the eggs and separate the yolks and whites. Add the egg yolks, vinegar, tuna, anchovies, capers, lemon juice, and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper to the food processor (or container if using a stick blender). Blend until completely smooth.

4. While continually blending, slowly add both of the oils until a mayonnaise-like sauce forms.

NOTE: adding the oils slowly is important to stop the mixture from splitting. Using a food processor/blender makes this easier (compared to whisking by hand) as the oil emulsifies with the egg yolks much quicker.

5. Check the seasoning (the anchovies and capers will usually provide enough salt) and consistency. We’re looking for a sauce with good body, but not overly thick. You'll probably need to add 1-2 tbsps of water and blend again. If you're feeling fancy, you can pass the sauce through a sieve at this point to make it extra smooth.

6. Arrange the sliced turkey on a platter and cover with a generous amount of the tuna sauce. Finally, garnish with a few capers, some rocket leaves, black pepper, and an extra squeeze of lemon.

Final thought

Despite what I said before, I’d urge you not to simply replace the sauce with mayonnaise. Making this one fresh will really elevate the dish and it doesn't take long to do.

Enjoy your leftovers. Enjoy your Xmas. And speak next week when I’ll be sharing a recipe perfect for lockdown 4.0 (my cousin’s mate’s dog works for the government and woofed at him about new restrictions).


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Tag your dishes with #eatmywordslondon, or hit reply to this email with a photo.


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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