Dot's Delicatessen proves, once and for all, that beef tongue is better than you think. A lot better.
'tongue' on Serious Eats
This here tongue sandwich is an adaption of one by chef April Bloomfield. Grilled tongue with horseradish, bitter greens, and green sauce. It's one of the nicest tongue and sauce combinations I've ever had.
A crispy veal tongue sandwich with horseradish, bitter greens, and a creamy, tangy tarragon sauce.
I used to think that the best usage for beef tongue in Mexican cuisine was tacos de lengua, but that just goes to show you how little I know about tongues. Turns out I like tongue cemitas just as much as tongue tacos, if not more. A cemita is a class of Mexican sandwich with meat, avocado, white cheese, onions and some sort of red sauce, usually on a sesame seed roll. Regional variations abound.
A Mexican beef tongue sandwich with black beans, avocado, and crema.
Tongue is a stress-free option for the grill. You simmer the tongue in water or stock, adding aromatics and spices. If I'm really pressed for time and mental reserves, I may do nothing more than plop a tongue into a pot with water and keep the heat on low. A few hours of simmering does the bulk of the work. Once simmered, you peel the tongue and cut it into thickish slabs, perfect for tossing on the grill. Because tongue is so fatty, you don't have to worry about it getting tough or dry.
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At home, you have the freedom to use pork or lamb's tongue in lieu of the more classic beef or veal tongue. You cut up the tongue, put down a pat of oil or lard in your pan, and stand over the skillet until the tongue is ready to be moved onto the tortilla, and not one second before. Simple as that.
Browning is key to great tongue tacos, adding a bit of crispiness to the meltingly rich meat.
Cedar Park, a northwest suburb of Austin is home to Noble Pig, a small, unassuming deli-like shop that boasts delicious specialty sandwiches. It seems to be getting easier and easier to find beef tongue in and around Austin as more chefs are featuring it, and more customers grow to understand the beauty of this organ meat.
This yak tongue was exactly a foot long. It is, to date, one of the best tongues I have tried. For an animal whose flesh is not particularly well-marbled, yak's tongue is speckled with fat and will cook slowly to fork-tender softness. Would it be too strange to say that the tongue melted on my tongue?
Squeamishness aside, the tongue is such an appealing cut: tender and fatty, and delicate in taste (unlike kidneys or liver, for instance, which have a more distinctive flavor). I enjoy tongue sandwiches. Like corned beef or pastrami, the thin slices of tongue are so rich and satisfying that it's perfect between two slices of rye bread. All it needs is some horseradish and mustard, and maybe a dill pickle.
These Bite-Your-Tongue Tacos from Joshua and Jessica Applestone's The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meats were my first foray into the world of tongue cookery, and I have to say upfront that there was a teeny-tiny amount of apprehension. But knowing full well the joy that comes with a plate of lengua tacos, I sucked it up.
Not only does cooking a tongue sous-vide make for complete set-it-and-forget-it ease (as it does with any braised or confit dish), it also creates a more flavorful finished product as the tongue slowly stews in its own juices.
Most of us who buy tongues at the market are used to seeing rounded curves on either end of the organ—not just the tip of the tongue, which is by default curved, but also on the meaty end of the tongue. More or less severed at the back of the mouth, the tongue emerges autonomous like some free-floating agent from the rest of the head. It was only after I began apprenticing at Fleisher's that I noticed the way the organ connects to muscles at the base of the skull.
Duck tongues? Wait, ducks have tongues? Yes, and the organ is actually a fatty delicacy. Barely two inches long, the tongue is small and flimsy but tastes intensely ducklike. When freshly fried, duck tongues are as addictive as potato chips.
How do you interpret this image of a half-naked Barbie doll with slices of ox tongue for wings? Beyond Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly of St. John Restaurant features unique photography for a cookbook, this photo being the most evocative. I'll never look at ox tongue the same way again. Related: Zach Brooks on his recent visit to St. John...