Layered Vitello Tonnato

Makes 8 servings
Time: 4 hours, somewhat unattended

There is more than a little work involved here, both in shopping and in preparation, but you cannot find a more impressive starter. When completed, these perfect appetizers look like gorgeous little napoleons in layers of red and white. And the work is manageable as long as you're patient. Not coincidentally, Michel's accompanying Caesar Salad Dressing is the paradigm.

2 pounds center-cut veal loin
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 bottle (about 1 1/2 cups) white wine
2 quarts chicken broth, preferably homemade, or more as needed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 pounds sashimi-grade tuna loin

SAUCE
1 recipe Caesar Salad Dressing (see below)
2 ounces capers, drained
1 head frisee, dark green tips and hard white roots removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 225°F. Split the veal loin in half horizontally and season both cut sides with salt and black pepper. Place pieces back on top of one another and tie the loin with butcher's twine, forcing it into as cylindrical a shape as possible.

2. Nestle the tied veal loin in a pan just large enough to hold it and cover it with the wine and chicken broth (add water if you don't have enough broth). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the thyme, rosemary, shallots, and salt and black pepper to taste; transfer the pan to the oven. Cook the loin at a slow simmer until the internal temperature reaches 140°F (use an instant-read thermometer), about 2 1/2 hours.

3. When the veal is ready, remove it from the broth and let it rest on a cutting board until cool enough to handle. Wrap tightly with plastic, using the plastic to help shape it into a cylinder. Put in the refrigerator to chill.

4. Prepare the tuna: Trim the loin into a cylindrical shape, removing the dark bloodline and the skin with a paring knife, then wrap in plastic the same way you did the veal, using the plastic wrap to help form the loin into a cylindrical shape. Place the tuna roll in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes, until very firm.

5. Make the sauce: Put the Caesar Salad Dressing and capers in a blender or food processor and puree; add salt and black pepper as needed and set aside.

6. When ready to serve, remove the tuna roulade from the freezer and, with a very sharp serrated slicing knife, cut the tuna as thinly as possible into 32 slices (reserve ends and scraps for another use). Repeat with the veal roulade, cutting it as thinly as possible into 24 slices (use any leftovers as a substitute for turkey in my [recipe_link slug="turkey-tonnato-sandwiches"]turkey tonnato[/recipe_link]). This is probably easiest if you first cut the rolls in half, then cut each half into half again, then proceed to slice.

7. Now build 8 little towers: Start each with a slice of tuna, season with salt and black pepper, top with a slice of veal, and repeat-each portion will comprise 4 slices of tuna and 3 slices of veal. Transfer the towers to a non-stick baking sheet and put in the freezer, so they have a chance to firm up, about 20 minutes. Once set, use a serrated knife to cut each stack into quarters. Allow them to sit at room temperature until they lose the chill from the freezer.

8. Lay out 8 plates and spoon 2 tablespoons of the caper-Caesar sauce onto their centers. Using a spatula and your opposite hand, transfer each tuna and veal tower to a plate on top of the sauce. Garnish with pieces of frisée and serve.



Caesar Salad Dressing

Makes: about 1 cup or 8 servings
Time: 20 minutes

1 clove garlic, halved
3 eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced anchovies, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Rub the inside of a salad bowl with the garlic clove; discard it.

2. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Pierce a tiny hole in the broad end of each of the eggs with a pin or a needle and boil them for 60 to 90 seconds; they will just begin to firm up. Crack them into the salad bowl, making sure to scoop out the white that clings to the shell.

3. Beat the eggs with a fork, gradually adding the lemon juice and then the olive oil, beating all the white.

4. Stir in the anchovies and the Worcestershire. Taste and add salt, if needed, and plenty of black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.