Saturday, March 14, 2009

Waste not, want not - beef tongue

This unnattractive chunk of cow muscle is a raw tongue. When we gave instructions to the butcher for our chunk of Highland beef a few months ago, we requested any of the so-called offal. This time we got heart, liver & tongue.

After much research, we decided to go with pickling it before cooking, but I didn't take any pictures of it bobbing in a purply-brown vat of brine. Just a bit too odd-looking. The pic above is the tongue slow-cooking in broth with assorted veggies, taste buds & all.

Here it is fished out of the broth and partially peeled. It's not as gross as you'd think once it was cooked, but still kind of strange. The dogs got the skin bits with their kibble, and I used the leftover broth as a base for a giant pot of heart & liver stew. I pressure-canned the stew to use as gravy on the dogs' food. They love it!

Cooled tongue, roughly sliced. It was so tender and flavorful, we kept eating slices of it, dragged in mustard, right off the cutting board. It also went great on leftover biscuits we happened to have around. The next day, we chopped the tongue into dices, gave them a quick sautee to crisp the edges, and made tacos lengue to die for! The pic below is a reenactment (courtesy of the internet) of our tacos, since we ate them too fast for documetation.

The recipe for the pickle and the slow-cooking is via the blog WasabiBratwurst
Pickled Tongue Recipe
adapted from the River Cottage Meat Book
The brine:
5 quarts of water (Stay away from using tap water!)
1 pound light brown sugar
1 pound kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon juniper berries
5 cloves
4 bay leaves
A sprig of thyme
2 tablespoon of saltpeter **optional: Sole purpose is to prevent the meat from turning gray. Helps to preserve the meat’s bright pink-red color.

Add all brine ingredients in a large pot over low heat, stir well until the sugar and the salt has dissolved completely. Take off heat and let the liquid cool down.

Place the beef tongue in a plastic container (with a lid), or an over-sized zip bag and pour in brine liquid being sure to submerge completely. If using a zip-top bag be sure to extract as much air as possible, seal and lay flat in the refrigerator for about a week flipping the tongue daily. If the tongue weighs in over 6 lbs, you can go up to 10 days.

After patiently waiting for 7 whole days, it is time for you to remove the tongue from the brine. Rinse well under cold running water.
Place the tongue back in the container/zip bag and soak it in fresh cold water, submerging again completely for 24~48 hours, changing the water every 12 hours. (The recipe calls for a 24-hour soak, I left mine for 48 hours and it was perfect seasoning - not too salty).

Cooking Pickled Tongue
1 whole beef tongue (pickled)
1 bouquet garni (sprigs of thyme, small bunch of parsley, bay leaf)
1 small carrot, chopped
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 leek, halved lengthwise
½ garlic bulb, outer skin removed

Move the tongue to a dutch oven with all ingredients, cover with fresh water and bring to a simmer. Poach gently on the stovetop over low heat or in the oven at 275 degrees for 2½ to 3 hours. Tongue will become very tender and yield when pierced.

Remove the tongue from the poaching liquid, place on a cutting board and peel away the outer ’skin’. It should come away from the meat fairly easily, just make sure to get rid of all of it. Carve the tongue into fairly thick slices and serve over lentils with quality grainy mustard or creamed horseradish.


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