And now for something completely different…Offal anyone??? No, I didn’t say awful. In fact, this is pretty tasty.
Now, I know I have lost some of you just on the title telling you this is beef tongue. I have many friends who simply won’t eat this because it is beef tongue. In fact, they won’t even try it because it’s tongue. I mean, let’s be real people don’t really eat animal tongue, do they? You betcha they do and done right it’s downright delicious. One of Knothead’s favorite meals is his mama’s lengua, which really is good. I have been making beef tongue since I started my foray into professional cooking some 40 years ago in a little bistro style restaurant. We had a specialty of beef tongue with almonds and grapes in a brandy sauce. It was quite tasty, indeed. It was tender, tasted very much like roast beef, sliced beautifully and was perfectly complimented by the sauce with grapes and almonds. Truly, an epicurean delight. Sadly, very few of my friends would try it much less eat it. So, I didn’t fix it very often. Then, years later, I made it for the kids. Let me tell you, THAT was a fiasco with 4 hungry children and their mother mad at me that I would dare serve them something like tongue. Blech!! Sheesh! I might as well have served them brain or even testicles. Oh well, I very happily ate it for dinner by myself and made sandwiches for lunch with the rest. They went to McDonalds and had mystery meat. Having learned my lesson, I never served it to them again. So, it was many, many years until I ate tongue again.
Ultimately, I met, fell madly in love with and married the Baby Lady. It’s still the happiest day of my life. We wound up with the Knothead who was a rather finicky eater but he does love Mexican food. That’s when Baby Lady started making lengua. It’s full of flavor and melt in your mouth tender. It makes great tacos or burritos and is simply wonderful stuff. Daniel fell in love with Baby Ladys’ lengua (and Baby Lady, too as he asked her to adopt him just before being stationed in Portland, Me. and she did). Finally, I found someone who enjoyed beef tongue and she doesn’t generally eat beef. No wonder I fell head over heels in love with her. Baby Lady, however, is a crockpot girl and I prefer stovetop and oven braising over crockpot stewing. It’s just a personal preference and one of our myriad of differences. It’s why we cook different dishes and the same dish differently. Nevertheless, Daniel grew up and left home and Quickstep finally got his own place. All of the sudden, there was no more lengua and let’s face it, 3-1/2 lbs of tongue is a lot of meat for 2 people, especially when one of them doesn’t eat a lot of lengua when she makes it because she really doesn’t eat red meat. So, it’s been a while since we’ve had lengua. Not surprisingly, I have been wanting to make beef tongue but I wanted beef tongue in a different way. I knew if I fixed sliced beef tongue with almonds and grapes served with a brandy sauce it would be too beefy for Baby Lady’s tastes. So, I looked around and finally came up with this recipe. This is a very savory, sweet dish, remarkably similar to barbecue. In fact, if you were to chop this up and put it on a bun, people would think you served them a chop beef sandwich. Seriously! We opted for corn tortillas and tacos.
This is what we did.
For the Tongue
- 1 beef tongue, 3-4 pounds
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
For the Braise
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 1 large white onion, sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, large dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans tomato paste (6 oz. cans)
- 2 cups Malbec wine
- 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
First, put the tongue in a pot, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and let soak for 20 minutes. You need to clean the tongue and remove any “potential off flavors” which is accomplished by this step.
Drain, cover 75% of the tongue with water and add bay leaves
Heat over high heat until water boils. Reduce heat, cover and simmer the tongue for an 1-1/2 hour. Tongue is one of those pieces of meat that is always working. Hence, it’s a very tough but flavorful piece of meat. As such, it needs a long cooking time. After 1-1/2 hour, turn off heat and allow the tongue to cool in its liquid. When cooled, remove from the liquid.
Now you have to skin the tongue.If you have cooked the tongue properly, it should skin with relative ease. Start by cutting a 1/8 inch slit in the middle of the tongue from the tip all along the entire length of the tongue.
Once the tongue is slit, peel it and remove the tough outer skin.
Now, trim off any gristle and nasty bits and cut into pieces.
In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil over medium-high heat, add the tongue pieces and brown in batches. It will take you 5 – 8 minutes per batch.
When the last batch is browned, remove the tongue, then add in sliced onion
and bell peppers
Cook the onions and peppers over medium until the onions are golden brown, about 7 – 10 minutes. Add in minced garlic
Cook for an additional minute until the garlic becomes aromatic.
Now, add the tomato paste
Increase heat to medium high and brown for an additional 7 minutes scraping frequently so as not to burn the paste, until the paste is a rich brownish red color.
Add the red wine, making sure to scrape up all the sucs/fond in the bottom of the pan.
Simmer until wine is reduced by half.
Now, add salt,
ancho chile powder
and brown sugar
Next, put meat back in the pot
Add roughly 1 cup chicken stock or until tongue pieces are 2/3 covered. Put lid on pot and place in 350 F oven and braise for 3 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally.
When done, place in a serving bowl.
Serve in warm corn tortillas with lime pickled red onions and avocado. Enjoy!