We all got a lot of tongue at the last crew dinner…beef tongue, that is. Ann, queen of the crockpot, whipped up some amazing tongue tacos for us all last week and, even though it looked like she’d crammed some strange alien into her slow cooker, it tasted delicious.
I had never had the pleasure of eating tongue before, nor of seeing it prepared, and I’m not sure which one was more exciting. After nearly 12 hours on low heat, the tongue looked, well, a lot like a human tongue except that it was white and weighed about three pounds. Ann peeled the rough outer coating off to reveal a very tender dark meat underneath. (I tried a little bit of the coating just for fun. It wasn’t fun. It made me think of chewing on a slice of a bouncy ball.) Ann cooked the whole tongue in beef broth with onion and garlic so that it would soak up some flavor, but you can also boil it in water for a few hours then strip it and continue cooking the inside part with any kind of spice that you want. The consistency of the tongue reminded me of those giant slabs of meat they have in gyro places that are continuously spinning on an upright spit. It didn’t just fall apart, but it had an almost bread-like quality and was quite flavorful. I was surprised that one tongue provided sufficient meat for five people. It’s one of the least expensive beef items available, yet very few people take the time or effort to learn how to prepare it. Getting over the initial repulsion may take a while, but it’s really no different from cooking any of the other cow muscle except that this one looks a bit strange while it’s in the pot.
Here’s an interesting recipe I found for BBQ beef tongue in the NY Times. I think we’ll have to try this one out next time.