Aug 3, 2012

Slip Me Some Tongue!

Spiced Beef Tongue Lettuce Wraps
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While beef tongue may not be a very common dish on your menu, this rich cut of meat is enjoyed in many parts of the world, and is quickly becoming very popular in high-end restaurants here in the US. Beef tongue's delicate texture and flavor is similar to brisket and corned beef. The other good thing about it is, it's usually pretty cheap! The hurdle with cooking beef tongue is psychological, probably stemming from the fact that it's a tongue, and a big one, and you have to handle it in order to cook it. That's why many people turn their noises up at it and say "I don't eat things like that". That's fine, more for the rest of us. Not only Beef tongue, but organ meats in general are becoming part of the "offal" movement that's sweeping the nation. Offal is back on the scene just as a cash-strapped America needs ideas for cheap meals. The stewed gizzards and scrambled brains that helped our forebears survive the Great Depression are getting a new lease on life. Whatever goes around comes around, and that's the offal truth. Here are a few delicious, and economical recipes for all of you neophytes to put your taste buds around and get out of the same ol' same ol' mind set.

Spiced Beef Tongue Lettuce Wraps
This appetizer recipe is my light version of Chinese "Moo" Shu Pork, no pun intended. Because this is a Chinese inspired recipe, the cooked meat can be served in different ways, in many different Asian dishes. For example, you could slice the tongue into 1/4 inch slices, then serve it with eggs, gravy and rice, Loco Moco style, or replace tongue for Spam in Musubi, or use tongue to replace Spam in any other recipe. It's much more economical ($2.69 per pound at Friendly Market on 7/31/12), and you know what's in it.
Ingredients:
3 pound fresh beef tongue
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 slices fresh ginger
2 star anise
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine, dry sherry, or Mirin
1 teaspoon salt

2 ounce bag of bean thread noodles
3 tablespoons sesame oil
leaf lettuce, red or green
Hoisin sauce, found in the Asian section of your grocery store
roasted sesame seeds

Procedure:
Rinse and scrub tongue under cold water to clean it. Place tongue in a large pot or Dutch oven and add soy sauce, ginger, star anise, sugar, sherry, salt and water to cover by one inch. Bring this to a boil, cover it and SIMMER for about three hours, or 50 minutes per pound. Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part with a knife. It should enter easily when the tongue has cooked. Remove tongue from cooking liquid and let cool slightly, so you can handle it. Important Note: Tongue needs to be skinned while it is still warm. If you allow to much cooling, it will be difficult to peel the skin off. When still very warm but not hot, the meat will almost fall off the meat. Trim gristle and bone from large end and skin the tongue. Discard both the skin and the cooking liquid. You are now ready to slice the tongue diagonally against the grain, into thin slices, then slice again into thin sticks. Set aside to cool.

Next, heat a pot of water with about 1 teaspoon of salt. When almost heated to a boil, add the bean thread noodles, and turn off the heat. Let it sit there for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to separate the noodles, then drain and let completely dry. Cut cooled, dry noodles into short pieces with kitchen sheers, and drizzle with sesame oil. Toss and taste the noodles, add more salt if needed. Pick small lettuce leaves, about 5 inches long and slice off thick end. Place noodles into each lettuce leaf, then place a small amount of sliced beef tongue on top of noodles. Spoon a small dab of Hoisin sauce on top of beef and sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top. Makes about 8 servings, however there is enough meat left over to make plenty more if you like, or use it for something else.

Mexican Braised Beef Tongue
Because beef tongue can be flavored in so many different ways during the cooking process, the possibilities are endless. The end product of this recipe makes a wonderful Mexican inspired meal. Ingredients:
1 beef tongue, approximately 3 pounds
2 onions, one (1) quartered and one (1) finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5 large tomatoes, skinned and diced
1 sprig of fresh thyme, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon), if using dried thyme, decrease to 1 teaspoon and crush well
1 sprig of fresh oregano, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon), if using dried oregano, decrease to 1 teaspoon and crush well
1 or 2 long green (Anaheim or similar) chile peppers that have been roasted, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 (6 ounces) can of tomato paste
3 tablespoons finely chopped capers or green olives (optional)
1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Procedure:
Rinse and scrub tongue under cold water to clean it. Place tongue in a large pot or Dutch oven and add the quartered onion and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring this to a boil, cover it and SIMMER for about three hours, or 50 minutes per pound. Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part with a knife. It should enter easily when the tongue has cooked. Remove tongue from cooking liquid and let cool slightly, so you can handle it. Important Note: Tongue needs to be skinned while it is still warm. If you allow to much cooling, it will be difficult to peel the skin off. When still very warm but not hot, the skin will almost fall off the meat. Trim gristle and bone from large end and skin the tongue. Discard both the skin and the cooking liquid. Slice the tongue diagonally against the grain into 1/2-inch slices.

In a different pot, or a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the finely chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté approximately 1 to 2 more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, thyme, and long green chiles that have been diced. Reduce the heat to medium/medium low and allow this to simmer approximately 15 minutes (this will cook the tomatoes and increase the amount of liquid in the sauce). Add the tomato paste and mix well to incorporate into the sauce. Add the chopped capers and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the sliced tongue into the sauce and gently cover over. Decrease the heat to low/medium low so there is only a slight simmer and braise approximately 20 to 30 minutes so that all the ingredients can heat through and the flavors can meld. Remove from heat. Serve with Spanish rice and a nice salad, or dice the tongue and serve in corn tortillas tacos with all the trimmings or flour tortillas to make burritos with beans and rice. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Grilled Rubin Sandwich with Beef Tongue
Anywhere corned beef can be used, you can use beef tongue. One of my favorite sandwiches is a grilled Rubin, but in this case we are using thinly sliced beef tongue instead of expensive corned beef.
Ingredients for cooking beef tongue:
1 beef tongue, approximately 3 pounds
1 small onion, quartered
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 bay leaf, crumbled

Sandwich ingredients:
2 tablespoon butter, softened
8 slices rye bread
8 slices Swiss cheese
3/4 pound cooked beef tongue, thinly sliced
1/2 pound sauerkraut
1/4 cup Russian Dressing (see recipe below)

Russian Dressing Ingredients:
Combine the following ingredients. Makes one-half cup.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Procedure:
Rinse and scrub tongue under cold water to clean it. Place tongue in a large pot or Dutch oven and add all of the ingredients for cooking beef tongue and enough water to cover by one inch. Bring this to a boil, cover it and SIMMER for about three hours, or 50 minutes per pound. Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part with a knife. It should enter easily when the tongue has cooked. Remove tongue from cooking liquid and let cool slightly, so you can handle it. Important Note: Tongue needs to be skinned while it is still warm. If you allow to much cooling, it will be difficult to peel the skin off. When still very warm but not hot, the skin will almost fall off the meat. Trim gristle and bone from large end and skin the tongue. Discard both the skin and the cooking liquid. Slice 3/4 of a pound of the tongue diagonally against the grain into very thin slices.

Butter one side of four slices of bread, and place the slices buttered-side down on a large piece of wax paper on a flat surface. Top each with a slice of Swiss cheese, and then divide half of the sliced beef tongue among them. Using paper towels, squeeze out excess moisture from the sauerkraut. Divide the sauerkraut among the sandwiches, and top each with one tablespoon of Russian dressing. Add another layer of beef tongue and a second slice of Swiss cheese to each sandwich. Top with the remaining bread slices; butter the side facing out. Preheat a griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Cook the sandwiches on one side until the bread is golden brown. Use a spatula to carefully flip the sandwiches over and finish cooking on the second side. Cut the sandwiches in half before serving. Serve with a side of coleslaw. Makes 4 sandwiches. Use leftover beef for other meals, like beef tongue hash, etc.
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