December 6, 2014
Speaking of Tongues
It's not pretty.
But have you ever tasted tongue? Forget what it looks like. Forget what it is. Close your eyes and take a bite. The texture is stunningly soft and extremely seductive. The flavor is mild and barely meaty. There's nothing gnarly about the way it eats: even the most offal-resistant person can fall in love with tongue.
For first-timers, there's nothing better than the pickled beef tongue they make at Formaggio Kitchen. It's ever-so-slightly pickled, with a gentle brininess that removes every vestige of funk. This tongue tastes as if the flavor of the entire animal has been condensed into a single slice. Shave it very thinly and put it on a cracker; your salume plate is instantly enhanced.
It is not, however, cheap. If you're a frugal shopper, you might consider preparing tongue at home. Begin with a tongue from a sensible purveyor, and make sure it isn't gray. This is just about the easiest meal you'll ever make; you basically put it in a pot and forget it for a couple hours.
Boiled Beef Tongue:
1 beef tongue (around 3 pounds)
Several cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, diced
Scrub the tongue thoroughly. If you have time, brine it. Put a cup of salt and a half cup of sugar into 4 quarts of water, throw in a few sprigs of thyme and let the tongue sit in it, in the refrigerator, overnight. Drain before cooking.
Put the tongue, brined or not, in a large pot and nearly cover it with water. Add all the aromatics and a teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil, skim off the scum, lower the heat and simmer gently for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until a knife moves easily through the center of the tongue.
Remove from pot. When it’s cool enough to touch, peel off the thick skin. Trim the tongue and slice it.
That's all there is to it. With boiled potatoes and a bit of mustard it makes a wonderful dinner for 6 to 8 people.
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