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Chris Amirault

Fresh Beef Tongue: Buying, Preparing

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Today's NYTimes food section includes an article on tongue by Society member Joan Nathan, who points out that the demographics of tongue consumption are changing in the US:

Jews have a long history of treating this scorned cut of meat as a delicacy. ... Today, with America’s burgeoning immigrant population, the market for tongue is changing. “When I first started in this business in the late ’70s the slaughterhouse operators in rural areas would call me and ask me to pick up cheaper cuts like tongue, tails and heart for nothing,” said Sy Ginsberg of United Meat & Deli in Detroit. “Now they are a delicacy, and tongue costs more than brisket because the Mexicans and the Asians use so many of them.”

This corresponds to my experience -- and prompts questions. I can buy tongue any day of the week at my local Portuguese butcher, he who provides me with pork belly, local rabbit, and many other things Whole Foods scorns. But I've never bought or prepared it, and don't have a keen sense of where to start with either decision.

The Times includes one recipe for fresh tongue with capers and cornichons, but there are no consumer tips that I can find. How does one shop for fresh tongue? What are some of your favorite ways to prepare it?

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I've always cured and confited tongue, peeling it after it's cooked in the fat. Lamb's tongues mostly, because I could get them from my butcher in Indiana, but I cooked buffalo tongue a few times when I was able to get it from the buffalo ranchers who came to the farmers' market. I think I remember seeing beef tongue in an Asian market last month, but I was more focused on other things.

I liked the lambs' more, but I probably should have just cooked the buffalo's at a lower temperature longer. With either of them, it's a very good sandwich meat, especially with some good salami and assertive mustard.

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I suppose I shouldn't call it confiting if I didn't store it in the fat, should I? I covered it (or them) in duck, goose, or mixed fat and cooked it in the oven on a low heat all afternoon, until fork-tender.

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I get them on occasion at a local chain. I have cured them in kosher salt, turning and refreshing the salt regularly. After about two weeks I simmered for about 2 hours with a few bay leaves and some black peppercorns, let it cool and peeled off the outer skin. The flavor is good, but they have the color of well done pot roast. I then bought some "curing salt" also called "pink salt". Because it contains sodium nitrate it is tinted pink so you don't confuse it with table salt. I brined for two weeks using that. After cooking as before the result is a wonderful, tender and rich meat. It has the flavor of the finest corned beef and makes great sandwiches and grilled Rubins. I had some tacos in Las Vegas that were made with fresh, uncured tongue that I'm guessing was simmered in much the same way as I do and they were quite good too.

HC

PS

As for the brine, I expected to get some good direction whith the pink salt, but it wasn't that good. I was able to figure that I needed about a third of a teaspoon for a gallon so I mixed a gallon of brine by adding 2 cups of kosher salt to a gallon of water and added about 1/3 tsp of the pink salt.


Edited by HungryChris (log)

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Ktepi, any experience with the beef tongue that's the focus of this topic?

There hasn't been a whole lot of difference in my experience -- I haven't seen beef as often, so I've cooked buffalo and lamb more, but other than the size and the slight taste difference between the lamb and the beef or buffalo (which is even slighter after curing), it's all seemed about the same. If not for the size, I'd never be able to tell the difference between the beef and buffalo.

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Yeah, there are a few interesting ideas in there, but it's thin on details.

What about the shopping question? What's a good tongue look like in the case?

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Beef tongue is available every day at our Meijer Thrifty Acres.

We braise it in salted water along with bay leaves and cinnamon sticks about 2 to 3 hours. Pull the skin off, pull the meat apart and drizzle with a Garlic/Oil and lemon juice sauce. Wrap in pita and enjoy.

Peasant food.

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Pressed Tongue isn't uncommon in the UK (though IMHO less common than in my childhood).

The basic recipe, widely reproduced (even in 1946 book in my possession) has one problem for you... it starts with "pickled tongue" ! :rolleyes: ("Order it in advance from your butcher")

-- however I think that the basic scheme for pickling in Ruhlman's Corned Beef recipe is going to get you to first base.

Thereafter Auntie Delia can help: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/cold-pr...gue,913,RC.html

- basically soak out the excess salt, poach it for ages with veg and herbs (to an internal temp mid 60's Centigrade?) when you can pull out the small bones at the base, skin and trim it, curl it into an appropriately sized pan to act as a mould, mix gelatine with a little of the reduced poaching licquor, pour over the tongue, and press under a weight overnight in the fridge.

Slice thinly and serve cold, in the same sort of way one would present/eat boiled ham...

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Hello,

Beef tongue is pretty standard fare in Japanese style Korean BBQ (not sure if it's actually used in Korean BBQ) and is very easy to prepare. It's also common for Japanese "pubs" (Izakaya) to serve as a side dish with beer.

Thinly slice tongue, about 2~3mm thick, lightly salt, grill until brown and the slices start cupping a bit, add a dash of lemon juice and consume.

The meat itself is a little stiffer due to (i think) the collagen and has a slightly "crunchy" texture for the same reason. A lot of my western friends love it until they hear what it is :P

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I love pickled tongue cold and sliced thin in sandwiches. As far as shopping tips, I go to the best butcher shop in the area and trust the butchers.

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The only time I made it was per Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 2. I pretty much followed her procedure. Hispanic market was right there with lots of plump fresh looking candidates. It peeled easily. We did a mustard cream sauce. I liked it but it was way too much meat for 2 people and even leftovers. A beef tongue is bbbig.

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As the granddaughter of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, I grew up eating beef tongue on a regular basis, and loved it. We'd usually buy it already cooked and sliced from the deli for sandwich making, but every once in a long time my mom would buy a whole fresh beef tongue and cook it from scratch. My mom did a very simple preparation--simmer low-and-slow for a few hours in water to cover with some basic aromatics, usually nothing more than an onion stuck with cloves and a big bay leaf. (Nowadays, I'd probably also add some chunks of carrot and celery.) When the tongue was tender, my mom would haul it out of the water onto a big platter and I'd help her pick all the funny rubbery skin off of it. We'd maybe trim off some of the gnarlier bits off the root end, but she'd basically serve it as is, and slice it at the table. But true to my whole family's aversion to mixing sweet and savory, we *never* had it with a sugary glaze or a raisin sauce or any such thing--we'd just eat it plain. In a sandwich we liked it with spicy brown mustard on sturdy Jewish rye bread.

Nobody in my family ever exhibited any horror over tongue looking like a tongue, so I didn't either--especially since it tasted so darned good! It was only in adulthood that I discovered other people were weirded out by the look or even the very idea of the stuff, so I've mostly had to do my tongue indulgences on my own.

I think I remember seeing beef tongue in an Asian market last month, but I was more focused on other things.

I was overjoyed to discover frozen whole beef tongue in my local 99 Ranch Market for way cheaper than in mainstream supermarkets (when I could even find it in the latter). And then there were all those tongues from other critters I hadn't even considered before--lamb, pork ... a whole new frontier of offal! :laugh: I was also delighted to discover tacos de lengua.

As to shopping tips/what to look for in a tongue at the market ... eh. It should look like a tongue, nu vhat else? :laugh: No, seriously, I guess I never really thought about it other than commonsensical things like, if it's fresh, does it smell and look properly fresh. If it comes frozen, who the heck can tell what's up with it until it's defrosted?

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As Misducky said, simmer until tender with aromatics, I usually use onion, garlic, and pepper corns.

Dice it and serve with a Mexican Chile sauce. Mmmm! Good! Not a tomatoey sauce but one made with Ancho chiles.

Tongue has only recently returned to markets in this area. It faded away over the years but with an increasing Mexican population is now available again.

My grandmother used to get corned tongue. I don't remember what she served with it but I remember I liked it.

Now I'n the only one in the family who will eat it so I get tongue tacos from the taco truck.

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I use only veal tongue in my cooking. It is milder and more tender.-Dick

No tongue experience here although, in the spirit of under-appreciated and under-priced ingredients, I am keen to try.

Maybe someone could say a few words to compare beef, veal, lamb, pig, other?

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A rather "old school" English preparation of beef (always called "Ox") Tongue would be to braise it, and then make a serving sauce with (particularly) Madeira from the braising liquor...

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Well--came here to find about tongue--and discover a recent thread!

I often had brined or corned tongue as a kid in Philly at delis.

There was also a terrible family dinner when my mother cooked tongue and brought it to the table whole in all its glory--she hadn't skinned it though, and i still can see those giant taste buds. We kids all ran screaming from the table.

Back to the present--at the table next to me at the Farmer's Market is a buffalo farm and they are slaughtering this week--the meat is pretty expensive, but i heard the farmer telling someone that tongues, hearts & livers are available--this piqued my interest and made me want to try tongue.

So tongue eaters--which method do you prefer--corned or brined, or braised?

What's the texture and taste of the braised? I only have the pickly taste in my sense memory, so I'm curious about braised tongue--does it have a stronger or gamier taste, or just a beefy, meaty--in my case buffaloey taste?

I don't think it's gelatinous at all so it won't break down the same way as a pot roast--so I need enlightenment....please!

Zoe

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So tongue eaters--which method do you prefer--corned or brined, or braised?

What's the texture and taste of the braised?  I only have the pickly taste in my sense memory, so I'm curious about braised tongue--does it have  a stronger or gamier taste, or just a beefy, meaty--in my case buffaloey taste?

I don't think it's gelatinous at all so it won't break down the same way as a pot roast--so I need enlightenment....please!

Zoe

I've never had it pickled, but I can vouch for the beefiness of a tongue braise! I don't think it's gamey so long as it's prepared properly. I soak it in vinegar water for a few hours, rinse, plop it in a pot of fresh cold water, bring it up to a boil, drain, then simmer in a new pot of salted water until tender with some aromatics- carrot, onion studded with cloves, celery, bay leaves, etc. (for me, a 4 # tongue will be right after about 2 hours.) Let it rest a little,"skin" it,and slice it up! It might be just fine with less work (I bet it could be pressure cooked in no time!), but I don't consider it much work for such tastiness.

The texture is like a very dense piece of meat- the back end of the tongue is heavily marbled/pocketed with fat, while the tip is a bit leaner. To me, tongue is awfully rich- a little goes a long way. If you have any leftover, it can be sauteed till slightly crisped and brown on the outside with some onions and spices for an awesome taco filling or hash!

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Giorgio Locatelli did a great Tongue salad with Salsa Verde on UKTV Food a couple of weeks ago. it is solidly on my 'to cook' list.

the recipe is on their website:

http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/593503

if you havent checked it out, btw, the UKTV food channel has one of the best websites for recipes and ideas i know of.

www.uktvfood.co.uk

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sony--you supplied exactly what I need to know--thanks a bunch.

maher--the tongue with salsa verde sounds really good--this might be the recipe I'll use--thanks!

it calls for a salted tongue, I see--I'll have to research what this is--whether it's already cooked or not.

Zoe

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It was easier in 2006 - I had one restaurant and all the time in the world to invent, prepare and play with food. 2009 is a lot busier, and I am entering into the busiest food event of the year in Vancouver - Dine-out 2009. (My new kitchen is too new to participate, but am offering a 'simular' menu to the public). Long story short! I fell in love with braised beef tongue while traveling through Europe. Each region did it differently and it was always wonderful. In BC I have braised duck tongues and pastrami'ed deer tongues. I now need to braise huge cow tongues for a menu that runs a week.

Anyone have any experience with cow tongue? Suggestions?

My vision is to braise the tongue in the Campania style with lots of spice and savoury -- and finish it with a cool cucumber/tomato/rosemary relish (BC has a great hothouse industry in the winter). It will be part of a five course tasting menu, as follows (pardon the Italian - the script has not been edited yet - these are my scratch notes):

RIBOLLITA SOUP

CANNELLINI BEANS, CHORIZO SAUSAGE, CABBAGE, OLIVE OIL

POLPO ALLA GRIGLIA CON LIMONE

GRILLED OCTOPUS, PARSLEY, CHORIZO ROASTED GARLIC, PRESERVED LEMON

VONGOLE AL FORNO CON OREGANO

CHERRYSTONE CLAMS, SALT CURED LOIN PROSCUITTO, ITALIAN BREAD CRUMB, EVOO

LINGUA BRASATA

BRAISED BEEF TONGUE, CUCUMBER, TOMATO, ROSEMARY, AGLIANICO DEL TABURNO

CLASSICO ITALIANO AFFOGATO

CHOCOLATE, HOT ESPRESSO, DOUBLE VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM

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Perfect timing, as I'm poaching a veal tongue at this moment, to be served with an orange gastrique. Have you considered sauce ravigote? I think the capers and cornichons wuold be a nice compliment to the rest of your menu.

The recipe I'm using calls for 1 hour 15 minutes for a veal tongue, although I'm letting it go longer, and suggests adding 45 minutes to that for a beef tongue. That's the poach, in a court bouillon, then you slice and give it a little time in the oven with the sauce.

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