“ICK!” “GROSS!!” “NASTY!!!” “Are you really going to eat that?” Damn right I am…come on now…gimme some tongue. When I made this last week, I posted some photos on FB of the whole cooking process. The comments above were some of the views expressed by folks out there. I didn’t know that cooking beef tongue would honestly stir up such a buzz. Aside from the FB banter, some other people even went to the lengths of texting, BBM’ing and calling me to see if I was out of my mind or indeed for real cooking this dish!? LOL.
Having heard this…you may then wonder, what made you decide to give this dish a go in your own kitchen in the first place? Well…the answer to that is, Dusty and I had eaten cow tongue a couple times before at this really nice Japanese restaurant. I am fully up for trying pretty much anything once. Worst case scenario…if I don’t like it…I won’t make it again. Pretty simple. When cooked properly, beef tongue is extremely tender, tasty and basically melts in your mouth. I wanted to try making it myself. Something many will never get to experience, because they are simply ‘too scared’ to try new things. Come on…live a little. Funny and ironic though, as many of those same people, are cool with eating things like processed hot dogs and other ‘crap food’ with a million and one ingredients in it, that they can’t pronounce! YUM!!
Well would you lick at that! (Thanks Amy Kubal for the pun) Off topic already. Okay, back to the tongue (all sarcasm aside). Beef tongue is part of the cow that has been consumed by various cultures for many years now. It is a fatty muscle, that is high in protein and B-12 and low in sodium and carbohydrates. Super nutritious and even more delicious. About a month ago, while roaming the farmer’s market one fine Saturday morning…I must have had tongue on my mind. I decided to ask the farmer at the Green Gate stand if they had any tongue left for the taking. I was indeed in luck, as she replied…’I think we have one left!” I must have been up and at it earlier than usual that weekend, because they usual sell out quickly. A minimal eight dollars and change later, and I was off to continue to rest of my shopping.
It came frozen in butcher paper…and stayed that way for a few weeks before I decided to cook this bad boy up. A huge fan of shredded pork, I knew that I wanted to make this in a similar fashion. I had also just made a huge batch of my homemade guacamole and salsa…so I thought the shredding of the meat would be the perfect technique to create some lettuce tacos. The Crock-Pot…aka, the Original Slow Cooker (now my new BFF) had to be a part of this first time experience as well. NOW, I want to take all of you a a visual and descriptive journey of how to make your own beef tongue…without being frightened. Come along and have a read, as I break it down into easy-to-follow steps!
- In the Crock-Pot
- 1 beef tongue
- 8 + garlic cloves - whole
- 2 celery stalks - chopped in pieces
- 4 shallots - chopped into quarters
- small handful of whole peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- beef broth - enough to fill pot ¾ way full
- In the cast iron pan
- 2 tbsp coconut oil/butter
- 2 medium onions - finely sliced
- 1 large bell pepper - finely sliced
- 1 hot red pepper - finely sliced (optional)
- 2 tsp ground chipotle
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne
- sea salt and ground pepper to taste
- garnish with fresh cilantro - chopped
- top with homemade guac and salsa
- if frozen, start by de-thawing meat in the fridge. Open package and stare at the tongue for a few minutes
- continue by pouring in your broth (can use homemade or store-bought)
- next, add in loads of whole garlic cloves, some chopped up celery, several halved shallots, a sprinkle or two of whole peppercorns and finally a few bay leaves
- put the lid on and set it to cook on low heat for 8-10 hours
- when your beef tongue has finished cooking, take a pair of tongs and remove it from the liquid and place it on a wooden cutting board (or similar surface)
- take a very sharp knife and actually cut and sectioned the tongue into quarters and peel skin
- once you have removed and discarded ALL the skin, you are ready to start shredding the meat
- take a fork or two and basically start running them through the chunks of meat, to pull it all apart
- in a cast-iron pan (preferably), heat some coconut oil or butter on medium
- next, add in the thinly sliced onion, bell pepper, hot red pepper and cook until softened
- then, scoop out all the cooked garlic cloves, celery and shallots and transfer them into the cast iron pan to join the party
- continue cooking on medium-high heat for a few more minutes
- after that, take your shredded beef tongue and add it into the pan
- next, take a spoon and mix thoroughly, until all the ingredients are combined
- finally, sprinkle in your desired spices and continue to stir
- garnish with some fresh cilantro
First step. If frozen, start by de-thawing meat in the fridge. Open package and stare at the tongue for a few minutes. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to react when seeing it for the first time. I had seen photos before of what a cow’s tongue looks like, so I suppose I wasn’t surprised. It didn’t really bother me in the least. I actually thought it was kinda cool! AND…YES, it totally looks like a tongue, because IT IS ONE. Skin and taste buds to boot. Don’t worry, you don’t eat that part. Sorta neat to run your fingers over though. I wanted to totally take side profile shot with the cow tongue looking as though it was coming out of my mouth. Dusty fully caboshed the idea. HA! He said I was getting carried away (maybe he was right!?) Next, I gave it a wee rinse, and threw it in the Crock-Pot.
Continue by pouring in your broth (can use homemade or store-bought). I actually had some store-bought beef broth on hand, so I went with that. Next, add in loads of whole garlic cloves, some chopped up celery, several halved shallots, a sprinkle or two of whole peppercorns and finally a few bay leaves. As you can see, the bay leaves are not in the photo, because they were somewhat of a late addition. I added them in after the pic was taken. Once all the previously mentioned items are in and floating around and hangin’ with the tongue, put the lid on and set it to cook on low heat for 8-10 hours. I originally set mine for 8 hours, but actually ended up leaving it on a little longer. It cooked for a total of 9 hours!!! I figured the longer the better in this case. I was right…the beef ended up being so juicy and succulent.
Soooooooooooooo…after the 9 hours of cooking away in the Crock-Pot, the house smelled incredible. We were in and out all day, and every time we walked in the door…we were welcomed with such a comforting aroma. When your beef tongue has finished cooking, take a pair of tongs and remove it from the liquid and place it on a wooden cutting board (or similar surface). I think this next little piece in the process is where some folks may get a little squeamish. Dusty was fully game to eat the end-product, but truthfully wasn’t a huge fan of what needed to be done next. Oh yes…the removal of the ‘taste buds’, aka taking the ‘skin’ off the tongue. With a eye (and a hungry belly) focused on the meat inside, I took a very sharp knife and actually cut and sectioned the tongue into quarters. This size of chunks was much more manageable to work with. Again, I wasn’t exactly sure how I would do with such a task, but I was totally good. The ‘skin’ actually peeled off super easy, with minimal effort to be honest with you.
Now…come on…take a look at this beautifulness. What is not to love right?!? Once you have removed and discarded ALL the skin, you are ready to start shredding the meat. Take a fork or two and basically start running them through the chunks of meat, to pull it all apart. Do so, until you have reach your desired shreddedness (new word). This step is also quite simple, as the meat basically just falls apart, because of the slow/low temperature cooking time it spent in the Crock-Pot. Chunk by chunk, continue the same thing, until the whole tongue turns into a nice yummy pile of meat on your cutting board. Of course at this point I had to sneak a wee nibble and taste. If somewhat walked into your kitchen and did the same, I assure you that they would probably mistake the tongue for a pot roast or something of that sorts. Be patient…we are almost there. At this point, you could eat it just like this (plain), if you so chose to…but we decided that we wanted to spice up our life a little further.
If you have two sets of hands in the kitchen…one of you could be shredding the tongue, while the other is slicin’ and dicing’, while getting prepared to sauté up the veggies on the stove-top. In a cast-iron pan (preferably), heat some coconut oil or butter on medium. Next, add in the thinly sliced onion, bell pepper, hot red pepper and cook until softened. From there, I took a large slotted spoon and removed all the ‘original’ ingredients from the Crock-Pot cooking. Why waste food right?! So I scooped out all the cooked garlic cloves, celery and shallots and transferred them into the cast iron pan to join the party. Continue cooking on medium-high heat for a few more minutes. After that, take your shredded beef tongue and add it into the pan. Take a spoon and mix thoroughly, until all the ingredients are combined. Finally, sprinkle in your desired spices and continue to stir. Once everything looks good-to-go, garnish with some fresh cilantro. Wash your lettuce leaves to get them ready as well. Finally, FINALLY…load ‘em up with the spicy shredded beef tongue and top off with some homemade guac and salsa. Enjoy! “Be brave. Try it. You won’t be disappointed!”