Beef tongue is making a big comeback in the restaurant scene lately. While tongue and tongue sandwiches have long been a staple of Jewish delicatessens, the rest of the culinary world is putting tongue front and centre as a go to choice on their gastronomic maps. It’s hard to imagine, but tongue is hot right now, and having a tongue sandwich for lunch is bound to get you more cred than having a burger.
There are several good reasons for this; beef tongue is totally in line with the nose- to- tail philosophy, in which consumers are encouraged to avail themselves of the whole animal and let nothing go to waste; beef tongue is an inexpensive cut; it is remarkably versatile, it is easy to prepare and it is totally delicious, tender and succulent, thanks to its relatively high fat content. That being said, as a 100g (3.5 ounce) serving of tongue has about 20g of fat-about a quarter of your daily intake- and 87 mg of cholesterol, tongue, like many organ meats, should be an occasional and not daily item on your menu. On the positive side, tongue is loaded with protein, iron, vitamin B-12, zinc and potassium, so, it’s a little nice and a little naughty indulgence.
There are many places in town that serve beef tongue but the best thing about sampling these culinary delights is that they inspire you “try this at home,” which in this case, is a good thing, as preparing tongue is super easy. Once prepared, tongue can be used in so many delicious ways; in a boiled dinner similar to a Jiggs Dinner, sliced thick and seared for a sandwich, or sliced thin and piled into a reuben, pulled like pulled pork, chopped up for a taco, or made into hash like corned beef hash. So many delicious applications all from one cut of beef that,in its original state, will not win too many beauty prizes.
Here’s how we prepared out tongue last week and it was totally delicious. Out of one tongue we made a Jiggs dinner, a couple Reubens and a hash.
Beer Braised Tongue
1 tongue (approx. 2.5 lbs)
2 tbs salt
2 tbs sugar
2 bottles beer
1 large onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp red peppercorns
pinch chili flakes
Clean the tongue by scrubbing and rinsing under cold water. Mix 3 tablespoons each of salt and sugar in enough cold water to cover the tongue and brine overnight in the fridge. The next day, discard half of the brine and add enough beer to cover. Add onion and the next 6 ingredients. Bring to a boil then simmer gently for 3 hours. Remove tongue from liquid and let cool until you can handle it. Peel the skin off with a paring knife-it will come off easily-and discard.It is now ready to be serve.
Now you have a beautiful piece of meat, and one of the best ways to enjoy it is to take advantage of that beautiful broth that the tongue has been simmering in for hours and make yourself a variation of Corned Beef and Cabbage, or Jiggs Dinner.While the tongue cools, strain the broth through a colander and discard the solids; there is not much pizzazz left in them. Add potatoes, carrots, turnip and cabbage and cook for about twenty minutes. Slice tongue about 1/3 of an inch thick and serve with veggies and some of the liquid, and lots of bread and butter.
Note: you can also use the broth, veggies and meat for a Scotch broth-like soup, or stew.