Mother's Beef Tongue
There's an old joke:
A guy went into a restaurant and asked 'What's the special of the day?'
'Beef tongue,' the waiter replied.
'Ugh!', the guy said, 'That's disgusting! I won't eat anything that comes out of a cow's mouth. Fry me up a couple of eggs!'
Believe me, I understand it's rather daunting if you've never cooked beef tongue or seen one being made. It's certainly not the most enticing thing before cooking. Or even after cooking. But when it's done, sliced and served? Fantastic. So tender you don't need a knife.
Keep this in mind: it's only another cut of beef like beef ribs, shank, loin or brisket. My mother made it for us all the time.....we were served a lot of unusual things. She and her mother really knew what they were doing in the kitchen! They were wonderful, innovative, fearless cooks. I made it for my children as well; they loved beef tongue. But I'm willing to bet not one of them has made it since they left home. They have the recipe too. This post will tweak their memories and they'll remember how good it was, how frugal this cut of meat is and what fabulous sandwiches it makes for leftovers.
The tongue muscle is quite lean and tough and requires a long braising or boiling. Then, things change. The tip of the tongue is made up of long muscle strand like brisket, only it's softer and more tender than any brisket ever could be. The back of the tongue is denser and more solid, but still has a melt-in-your-mouth texture that is difficult to describe.
And there are so many ways to serve it. I am showcasing how my mother made it; sliced and served with a sauce...in her case, usually some homemade chili sauce, but in my case, a lovely mustard horseradish sauce I found online. Just about every cuisine in the world serves tongue, but I have tasted only a few: the British love it sliced thinly in a tea sandwich (I saw The Two Fat Ladies-do you remember that show?-- layer it with chicken salad in one episode!); in France they serve it with mushrooms and a Madeira sauce; in Mexico, they call it lengua and shred it for tacos and burritos (However, you have to cook it longer than my recipe, but it's so much better than ground beef.); I've had it fried and I've even had it pickled.
So brace yourselves everyone. I'm going to show you the entire process from beginning to glorious end. I don't have any problems finding beef tongue in South Florida, but you may have to ask your butcher to order one for you. The tongue will probably be bigger than you expect, it's likely to weigh more than 2 pounds and mine came rolled up. It's a rather fatty piece of meat and is covered in a thin layer of skin; the fat cooks off and the skin easily slides off with the help of a knife after the meat has cooked.
Do you trust me? Then give this a chance....Mother knew best.
1 whole beef tongue
1 lg. onion, quartered
2 carrots cut in half
2 stalks celery halved
1 bay leaf
6 whole allspice
10 whole black peppercorn
1 teaspoon salt
a few fresh herbs you might have handy
Scrub tongue well.
Put in large pot and cover with water. Add all other ingredients and cover and bring to a boil. Boil on lowered heat for 2- 2 1/2 hours. Remove from pot.....
and peel the outer layer of skin away. It comes off easily. I also trim any unwanted fat at this point as well.
Slice and serve hot with chili sauce, a homemade tomato sauce or my horseradish sauce. You can find the recipe HERE.