Poached veal with saffron aioli and quail eggs

Poached veal with saffron aioli and quail eggs

Elisa Watson

This is my take on the lovely Italian dish vitello tonnato for those who don’t eat meat and fish on the same plate. Poaching results in moist, tender meat. The saffron aioli, cornichons and crispy capers add delicious sharp flavours, and the quail eggs make it shine. Note that you need to poach the veal the night before. Serve it on a platter as part of a grazing table or individually plated up.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg veal girello
6 quail eggs
30g celery heart leaves
10 cornichons, to garnish
sea salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Raw greens and grains, to serve

Court boullion

Quantity Ingredient
2 garlic cloves
2 carrots
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks with tops, chopped
1 leek, white part only, sliced
6 juniper berries
6 peppercorns
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf

Saffron aioli

Quantity Ingredient
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
250ml grapeseed oil
1 garlic clove, retrived from court bouillon once veal has cooked, crushed

Crispy capers

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
50g capers


  1. To make the court bouillon, combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan with 4 litres water. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the veal to the court bouillon and poach for 1 hour over low heat, until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 50°C when tested with a sugar thermometer.
  3. Remove from the heat and retrieve the garlic clove for the saffron aioli. Refrigerate the veal in the court boullion overnight.
  4. To make the aioli, combine all the ingredients in a small jug. Using a hand-held blender, gently pulse to blend the ingredients until smooth and emulsified.
  5. Half-fill a small saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Gently add the quail eggs and boil for 3 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, then peel and rinse the eggs. Cut in half.
  6. Pick the celery leaves and immerse in cold water until ready to serve.
  7. For the crispy capers, heat the oil in a small frying pan over high heat. Fry the capers for about 1 minute, or until crispy. Drain on paper towel and season with salt.
  8. To serve, drain the celery leaves and the veal, discarding the court boullion. Slice the veal into 3 mm slices and arrange on a platter. Top with the eggs, celery leaves, cornichons and crispy capers. Fill a piping (icing) bag with the saffron aioli and pipe it in small dollops all over the veal. Season well with salt and pepper, and finish with a drizzle of oil. Serve with the raw greens salad on the side.
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