from The New York Times

It wasn’t my intention to execute two offal recipes in a row (seriously, no pun intended). But when Sherry sent me a text to ask if I wanted the tongue of the steer she and Dan had just had slaughtered that day, I leapt at the opportunity to try a recipe that appeared in the NYTs in September. Tongue is not for everyone, I admit. My mother used to make it when I was growing up. In my early 20s, I had a memorable meal at a Moroccan restaurant somewhere in Detroit that included a plate of lamb tongues lightly covered in a creamy lemon sauce. Bistro Jeanty in Napa serves a lamb tongue salad that won my loyalty forever to that wonderful restaurant. Over the years since then, I’ve tried making lamb tongues a few times, in this country and in Greece, but found it unrewarding work to peel all those little tongues. One large beef tongue is much more manageable.

Several days ago, Sherry dropped off a plastic bag with a big bloody tongue in it. Because it was fresh, I dreaded the initial shock of seeing it. It didn’t look nearly as bloody and dismembered as I feared, although I felt slightly more queasy preparing it than I usually do preparing meat. In the end, the recipe worked very well.

Here’s the original recipe:

1 3- to 4-pound fresh beef tongue, washed
1 medium carrot
1 medium onion peeled
6 cloves
1 celery stalk
1 leek, trimmed
Grated peel of 1 orange
2 T white vinegar
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme
A few peppercorns
2 T coarse salt
1/3 cup butter or pareve margarine
1 T flour
1/2 small tomato, peeled and pureed
1/2 cup white wine
2 T capers
2 T finely diced cornichons (gherkin pickles)
1 bunch of parsley, minced

1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add tongue and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove tongue and throw out water.

2. In the same pot, add 4 quarts fresh water. Add carrot. Pierce onion with cloves and add to pot, along with celery, leek, orange peel, one tablespoon white vinegar, bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Add tongue, bring water to a boil and simmer, for 2 hours, depended on weight of tongue, until it is tender when pierced with a knife. As it cooks, replenish water as needed so tongue remains almost covered.

3. While tongue cooks, melt butter or margarine in a saute pan. Add flour, stirring to make a roux. Add about 1 cup tongue cooking water, the tomato, white wine, remaining tablespoon vinegar, capers, cornichons and a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes over a low heat, until sauce reduces a bit. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

4. When tongue is done, turn heat off. When tongue is cool enough to handle, remove, and peel skin with point of a knife. Then cut tongue on diagonal in slices about 1/4-inch thick and arrange on serving platter. Pour sauce over slices and sprinkle with parsley.

My adjustments:

I followed the recipe pretty closely, except for a few details. The tongue Sherry gave me weighed 2 1/2 pounds, but I didn’t reduce any of the ingredients. After cooking the tongue for 2 hours — in other words, it took as long as the recipe called for a larger tongue to become tender — I put the cooked tongue in a big bowl and strained the cooking water over it. Then I stored it in the refrigerator for two days.

Last night, I removed the tongue from the liquid, poured out and set aside two cups of the tongue broth (just to be sure I had enough) and disposed of the rest. I made the roux, added one cup of the tongue broth as well as the other ingredients, and proceeded as the recipe directed. But I added a handful of parsley to the sauce at the end.

Slicing the tongue takes practice. I cut off much of the meat and fat under the tongue and put it in my scrap container for the dogs. Anything that didn’t look appetizing I sliced off. That still left quite a bit of the meat.

I warmed up some of the slices, poured a bit of sauce over it, and sprinkled chopped parsley over it.


Last thoughts:

Next time, I think I’ll make a roux according to another recipe. This was fine, but I’d like to experiment. One bunch of chopped parsley was excessive, so I cut back on that. I’m glad I made this and would probably make it again.

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