I love, adore, have a soft chewy beefy spot in my heart reserved for that Most Awesome of Extra Bits: Beef tongue/AKA Lengua (para mi jente). The Flavor is oh so very the essence of beef, as if you condensed all the flavor of a cow into one square inch. Yet the texture isn't made dense for that compression, if anything it takes on a light, spongy quality, like cotton candy carne. It's also stupid simple to make (boil in water for 6 hours with a chopped onion) The only tricky part is peeling off the skin, which needs to be done while hot.
Even with that small task included, the flavor to effort ratio is still way off the charts, it must be breaking some law of Food Thermodynamics: "One cannot extract more flavor out of a system than effort put in". Yet it does. Even the water you boil it in becomes liquid gold, a deeply savory beef stock with just a bit of earthiness all its own. However, It also provides a bit of mental gymnastics when you receive it: I had eaten and fallen in love with beef tongue long before I had cooked it myself, and the first impression seeing it uncooked was.....well. rather blunt.
I mean, yes, I knew in my mind it was a tongue. But it was huge, alien pebbly mottled thing, the Ron Jeremy of Tongues. It slipped out of the plastic saran wrap and flopped into the pot with a life of its own, ready for the Jacuzzi. "Bring it on man! I'm ready for that hot water!" In my own experience I'd only ever really see this polite flappy tip when I'd seen cows chewing. Who knew they would be packing so much under the hood.
Yet Beef Tongue is versatile, you can cook it, and the meat is enough to feed two for a week's worth of meals. It's made for Mise en Place, the svelte texture ensures that you can reheat it by pan fry, braising, saute, deep fry, anything to your hearts content without losing its softness. Monday, cube and throw it in some tacos, check. Tuesday, braise it in Soy for an Asian brisket influence. Wednesday, pan fry it in butter and serve with roasted veg like a filet mignon. Thursday, glazed in ginger and allspice, and sliced into pho. It's like Peter Sellers, able to put on funny hats and mustaches with aplomb, taking on character yet staying true to its core. So......If you haven't tried it, DO IT (per Shia Lebouf). You'll be experiencing something new, and your taste buds will be grateful to have tasted the taste buds of this magnificent ruminant If you've tried it but haven't cooked it, here's the recipe.Next post: Beef Tongue Pho
RECIPE: BOILED BEEF TONGUE
-1 Beef Tongue (3-5 lbs)
-1 large onion
-1 large carrot
-Fresh pair dishwashing gloves
Take your tongue and soak it in cold water for an hour. This helps leech out any remaining blood. Scrape the outside with a bristle brush. Pour out water and replace to cover tongue. Quarter the Onion and Carrot, toss in. Set to boil. Once it starts boiling, skim the scum off the top, and lower heat to a low simmer and add a few tbsp of salt. Too hot too fast can actually tighten up the tongue. Depending on size, simmer for 4-6 hours, topping with water as it evaporates. Make sure the tongue is fully submerged. After 4-6 hours, the tongue should be ready, one clear indicator is that the skin will peel off easily while hot. Let stock liquid cool off and reserve and store for Broth. Wearing gloves, work with the tongue while it's hot. Using a small paring knife, use the knife to start to separate the top skin from the meat, once a large enough flap is made, it should peel easily off by hand (which is why you're using dishwashing gloves to help you handle the heat) In the rare case it does not peel off easily (overboiled at too high a heat the whole time) use the paring knife to shave off top skin, making efforts to not cut too deeply into the flesh. Once you have removed the skin, Cut off the gristle - the tendon and tougher flesh at the bottom base of the tongue - where it would connect to the bottom of the mouth. Cut whole tongue into 1/2 or 1/3 sections to store in a container covered in its own broth. Will keep for 5 days, or freeze for a month.