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Crispy Pork Cutlets with Tonnato Sauce from Chef Daisy Ryan

Crispy Pork Cutlets with Tonnato Sauce from Chef Daisy Ryan
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Chef Daisy Ryan and Husband Greg, Co-Owners of Bell’s in Los Alamos CA.

I was tempted to call this Maiale all Milanese Tonnato. Or Tonkatsu Tonnato.

This creamy-rich tonnato sauce, flavored with premium tuna filets, creates a wonderful balance to its richness with fresh lemon and pickled caperberries. The luxurious sauce instantly elevates the dish with a perfect contrast to the crispy cutlets. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love fried anything?  The recipe is from Chef Daisy Ryan, who has the distinction of being named 2020’s Best New Chef by Food and Wine magazine. Chef Ryan presides over the kitchen at Bell’s, a bistro located in Los Alamos, 140 miles north of Los Angeles. So surprised at her win, she reportedly asked if the magazine had the right person. But by all accounts, she is wildly deserving.  At the restaurant which she runs with her husband, Greg, the food is French-inspired but not French. Chef Ryan calls it “Franch”. It’s in ranch country ergo French plus Ranch: Franch.  It’s clear from today’s recipe that cultural mash-ups are a Daisy Ryan specialty.

Vitello Tonnato, the Italian Original.

Calling this Maiale Alla Milanese Tonnato in honor of the sauce’s Italian origins would not be out of line.

A Piedmontese dish, Vitello Tonnato, consists of cold, sliced veal covered with a creamy, mayonnaise-like sauce flavored with tuna. It’s associated with summertime as it is served chilled of at room temperature. It is a main course or, as Marcella decreed “an exceedingly elegant antipasto for an elaborate dinner”. It’s also wildly popular in Argentina with its enormous Italian population. There it is considered a traditional Christmas dish. After today’s recipe, we’ve included a link to another Tonnato recipe you may enjoy—using chicken in lieu of veal.

The original Pork Tonkatsu.

Or we could call this Tonkatsu Tonnato

Tonkatsu is a Japanese dish that is made up of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. It’s prepared exactly the way Chef Ryan prepares her cutlet.  The word Tonkatsu is a combination of the Japanese word “ton” meaning “pig” and katsu, a shortened form of katsuretsu which translates into “cutlet’ in English. “Cutlet” was derived from the French “côtellette” meaning “meat chop” thereby proving that “the world is a circle that’s perfectly round”.  Tonkatsu is a relatively new Japanese dish. It was invented in the 19th Century and was usually made with beef. The pork version first appeared in 1899 at a Tokyo restaurant called Rengatei.  It was considered to be a type of “yōshoku”—Japanese versions of European cuisine invented in the 19th and early 20th centuries. “Tonkatsu”  goes a long way to proving that “the world is a circle that’s perfectly round”.  Here’s this fantastic recipe – perfect for a weeknight. And below it, another take on Tonnato.

Crispy Pork Cutlets with Tonnato Sauce

March 19, 2021
: 4
: 40 min
: If you can use a Food Processor you can make this dish

Creamy and rich tonnato sauce, thickened and flavored with high-quality tuna, surrounds a crispy pork cutlet for an out-of-this-world weeknight dinner.


  • 1 ¼ cups extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¼ cup jarred caperberries, plus more for garnish
  • 3 drained anchovy fillets
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided, plus more for garnish
  • 2 (6.7-ounce) jars of oil-packed tuna fillets (such as Tonnino), drained
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless pork loin chops, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/8 ounces)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion rinsed under cold water, and patted dry
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 200°F. Process 1/2 cup oil, caperberries, anchovies, lemon zest and juice, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a food processor until almost smooth, about 1 minute. Add tuna. Process until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. Transfer to a bowl
  • Step 2 Stir in 1/2 cup water until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Step 3 Sprinkle pork evenly on both sides with salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place flour, eggs, and panko in 3 separate wide, shallow bowls. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge in flour, and shake off excess. Dip in eggs. Let excess drip off. Dredge in panko to coat. Place on a plate.
  • Step 4 Heat 1/2 cup oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium. Working with 1 or 2 cutlets at a time, cook in hot oil until golden brown, crisp, and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels
  • Step 5 sprinkle lightly with salt to taste, and place in preheated oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining cutlets, adding remaining 1/4 cup oil to skillet after cooking 2 cutlets.

Pollo Tonnato, a Hamptons Italian Dish straight from Ireland.




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