Pollo (Chicken) Tonnato


Serves: 4

Preparation time:  25 min.

A Piedmontese Christmas tradition with veal, called Vitello Tonnato, is equally good with chicken. Tonnato from the Italian word ‘tonno’, means ‘made with tuna’.

Quickly prepared with the bonus of advance preparation. Great for summer parties. A crusty bread to mop up the sauce and a glass of wine are all you need.


  • 2 whole, boned chicken breasts, split in the middle (4 halves)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 1 scallion stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups (750 ml) water or light chicken stock
  • 4 whole boned chicken breasts split in the middle
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 4-5 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 parsley spring
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • capers, lemons slices, and greens for garnish (optional)
Tonnato Sauce:
  • 1 can  (about 1 cup – 225 g) good quality tuna fish, drained
  • 4 anchovies in oil, excess salt removed and patted dry on towel papers
  • 1 cup (240 ml) mayonnaise, homemade or of good commercial quality
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • reserved cooking liquid, to thin up the sauce, if necessary


Tonnato Sauce: In a small food processor, add drained tuna, anchovies, and the mayonnaise. Blend until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper, if necessary. If you like a bit of piquancy in the sauce, add a bit of lemon juice.

Chicken: Combine the wine, lemon juice, celery and scallions, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley and salt (optional) in a saucepan. Add about 3 cups of water or light chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the chicken breasts. Make sure that there is enough water or stock to cover the chicken.  Poach breasts for about 8 minutes. Let chicken cool in the liquid. Drain but keep the liquid for another use.

Serve cold poached chicken and tuna sauce. Garnish with capers and lemon slices.

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