Finally we are back into what feels like a normal routine. We are mostly unpacked and things feel like they are settling down after what felt like forever in limbo as we transitioned from Raleigh to Boston. In reality, it has only been a month and 2 weeks since we decided to accept the job offer that would move us from the southeast to New England. First post in a new place and I have to say I am excited about it. First, I'd like to tell you a little story about this beef tongue.
Sometime maybe a couple of months ago, I was at the Raleigh State Farmer's Market, and I saw that one of the farmers who sell meat had whole beef tongues for sale. I love beef tongue. If I see it on a menu, I have a hard time not ordering it. It was first introduced to me by a Guadalajara-born friend in Los Angeles. "You gotta try the lengua man, it melts in your mouth" he would say when we brought up mexican food, but I was timid and didn't work up the guts to try it until I lived in Chicago. For as much as I have come to love it, I had yet to cook it at home, so when I saw it at the farmer's market, my heartrate went up and I felt like I couldn't pass it by. I brought it home and immediately stashed it in the freezer until I could find something to do with it. For one reason or another, I just never got around to cooking it in Raleigh. I was able to get rid of all of my other freezer meat before we moved - either by grinding it or just finding a way to make use of it. Everything except this tongue. So when we started planning our move and what would go with us in the car, I thought I'd make a brilliant suggestion to throw the tongue in the cooler that was going in the car with us. Since it was like 3 pounds and frozen, it almost single handedly kept everything in the cooler cold for the 14+ hour drive from Raleigh to Boston. When we got to Boston, it went straight back into the freezer until I could come up with something to do with it. My first obvious inclination was to make tacos de lengua - my favorite style of taco. But after looking at recipes, I just wasn't all that inspired. I continued to peruse my blogs until I found a posting by 4505 Meats founder Ryan Farr. I first became interested in 4505 as a blog because of the in-depth postings that Ryan would make related to butchery. He offers classes in whole animal butchery, which I would love to take some day. Some of the processes are documented in photo blog format, and Ryan also recently released a book about butchery. I haven't picked the book up, but it looks to be a must have. Largely illustrative, it looks to demystify some of my questions about butchery and how the process works. Ryan's corned beef tongue didn't come with a recipe, so I manufactured my own, but I think that it is largely in the spirit of his corned beef tongue, and it was absolutely amazing.
Corned Beef Tongue
(inspired by Ryan Farr, 4505 Meats)
1 beef tongue
1 head of garlic
1 large chunk of ginger (3-4 oz), peeled
10 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
1 whole onion, peeled and halved
1 c soy sauce
1 32 oz box chicken stock (optional)
1 box kosher salt
Pink salt (aka Instacure #1 , DQ curing salt) (optional)
|Tongue ready to cure|
|I just wanted to show the fatty end. Look at that lovely marbling.|
Start by rinsing your tongue and patting it dry. Place it in a container and cover it with salt. If you would like to use pink salt, feel free. I used it because I wanted the reddish color that pink salt imparts as it cures, but it is certainly not necessary. If you do use it, mix the kosher salt and the pink salt in a separate container before covering the tongue. Cover the tongue in salt and cover the container. Refrigerate for a week. I flipped the tongue every other day to ensure that it cured evenly, and I added more salt halfway through to keep the tongue well salted.
Remove the tongue from the salt and rinse well. Prep the rest of the ingredients by cutting the garlic head in half, having the onion and removing the outer layer, and peeling and cutting the ginger into large 2" chunks. Place the tongue in a stockpot and add the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, onion, thyme, and Sriracha.
Cover the tongue with either water or chicken stock. I had some chicken stock in the fridge, so I used about 16 oz of chicken stock and water for the rest of it. Fill the pot until the tongue is covered and then bring to a simmer on the stove. Cover the pot and simmer the tongue for 3-4 hours.
When the tongue is cooked through, take the lid off and cool the stock. I wanted to speed up this process because I was hungry, so I set the tongue aside, strained the broth, and set up an ice bath. I cooled the stock rapidly by putting it in a mixing bowl in the ice bath for about 5 minutes. I then put the stock back into the stock pot and put the tongue back into the strained broth. Otherwise you could just let the stock sit on the stove until it cools.
|Braised and ready to clean|
After the tongue has cooled, you have to remove the outer layer. This is maybe a little gross. Make a clean very shallow cut down the center of the tongue. Use your fingers to pull the outer layer of the tongue away from the meat. Do this for the entire outer layer.
|Better idea of how thick the outer layer is|
When you are ready to eat the tongue, simply heat up a frying pan, add a little oil, and sear the tongue until brown on both sides.
To serve, I made a quick sauce of mayo, sriracha, salt, pepper, worchestershire sauce, and horseradish and made a sandwich of the mayo, corned beef, and greens on italian bread. To be honest, I feel like I maybe wimped out on the sandwich because I had swiss chard in the fridge that I wanted to blanch and dress in a lemon vinaigrette, but when it came down to it, I was hungry and it was time for football so I settled for the mixed greens. It doesn't take anything away from the awesomeness of the tongue though.