Bite Your Tongue

Say aaahhh.  Have a good look at your tongue in the mirror.  Although there actually is a human disease called “black hairy tongue” (Google it if you don’t believe me) this amazing tongue belongs to a cow.  Actually, it once belonged to a cow, but now it belongs to me.  It’s not every day that I get such an interesting object to have and to hold.

So when I walked into my new favorite butcher shop, Rain Shadow Meats in Seattle, and saw that they had a tongue, I couldn’t resist bringing it home with me.  Perhaps such a spiky and impressive tongue is indeed capable of meteorologically improbable events, but in this case, the label is butcher’s shorthand for a tongue from the locally famous Thundering Hooves farm, where cow tongues are free to feed themselves on fresh grass, almost right up to the moment they come home to feed us.

I’ve cooked a few tongues in my life, not many.  And I’ve never had a tongue that started out black and spiky.  Tongues, when I’ve bought them before, have been pink and leathery, never black, never spiky.  But this tongue is as rough as a cat’s, as spiky as your barista’s butch cut.  Probably that has nothing to do with Seattle’s reputation as a Goth town, but then, how else to explain it?

In any case, I wanted to do something special with this little treasure, and since Shel is officially Bored With French Food, and we both love Mexican-style lengua, I set out to make a Latino-inflected dish.  A search of online recipes led me (click here) to this recipe for Cuban-style tongue with peppers.

It’s a delicious dish, delicately sweet-tart, with the velvety slices of tongue offset by the brightness of the peppers.  I won’t copy the recipe here, because the Masa Assassin site where I found it deserves your attention for several delicious-looking Mexican recipes.  I only changed the recipe in one way: instead of using a pressure cooker I simmered the tongue for a couple of hours, and instead of just using water, I simmered it in a mixture of beef broth and water, with the addition of onion, garlic, and bay leaves to the simmering water.

I urge you to try it, if you can get your hands on a tongue.  If you can get a thundering tongue, you’re really in luck.  And if you have some Goth friends to serve it to, you’re golden.

Explore posts in the same categories: French Letters Visits America, Posts Containing Recipes

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11 Comments on “Bite Your Tongue”

  1. I do like tongue. I just haven’t been able to do the peeling part of the process!! oh, it gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. My mom used to cook us tongue once in a while and I remember watching her do that part and being squeamish then. Good for you. Occasionally I will get a lengua taco… yummy.

  2. Conni Says:

    I have a tongue in my freezer right now and wanted something special to do with it. THANKS I’ll check out that website.

  3. Kathi Says:

    Here in Texas, we can purchase tongue at most grocery stores and can also get it in the local mexican restaurants. I have found that I’m not fond of it in the restaurants because its generally tough, unseasoned and rubbery, but often co-workers or friends will make it right…and it has the nice flavor and consistency of a good brisket.

  4. Sharon Worster Says:

    I’ve never touched a tongue nor cooked one but what an interesting read. I cook vicariously through you. Shel is one lucky man to be *officially bored w/ French food*!!!

  5. Margaret Pilgrim Says:

    My favorite taco truck order! I also remember fondly when I brought my roommate home one Sunday afternoon on our way back to school from the beach. My mother came to the door and say, “Oh, no! Not you two!” Why? She was horrified that she had just plattered up a tongue for dinner. “Super!”, my roommate whooped, “Tongue’s my favorite thing in the whole world!”, instantly becoming my mother’s friend for life.

  6. Silvia C Says:

    I’ve been eating (and loving) tongue as far as I can remember. I had it quite frequently during the two years that I spent going to and from Buenos Aires.
    Just as I remembered the cows tongues there are black but once peeled they are about the same as the ones in the US.
    I make them generally on a fashion similar to yours, but have a tendency to use the crock pot instead. That guarantees tenderness.

  7. jessica Says:

    That picture–I just kept going back to that picture! I love tongue and grew up eating pickled or corned tongue (yum). My only other experience with tongue was lamb tongues. They were cute little things, and tasty too! Thanks Abra for the great recipe and idea!

  8. Wolfgang Says:

    Cooked tongue , frech spring potatoes, some carrots with parsley and a freshly made horseradish cream sauce !

    Also often here in Germany instead of roastbeef or ham for a sandwich,

  9. geri Says:

    Dear Abra, Unfortunately a dear, dear friend of mine was just last week diagnosed w. bladder cancer. He has had to radically change his diet to boost his immune system as the Dr. says it is, at it’s core, an immune system disorder. Eating nutrition rich foods that don’t compromise his immune system is his agenda now. Meats,shellfish, sugar, white flour, alcohol, coffee are prime immune suppressors I’m told.
    I have been reading your blog for a few years and am now puzzled by the combination of your sharing of Shel’s cancer journey and his diet, chronicled by your mouthwatering recipes and restaurant selections, that seems, from my new information, to be counterproductive to healing cancers. What do you think?

  10. Abra Bennett Says:

    Geri – Shel is not interested in alternative medicine or nutrition. It’s his life, that’s what I think, and I want his life to be as happy as possible.

  11. Heinz Says:

    I like veal tongue (cooked in a mixture of white wine and water with carrots, leeks, celeriac, bay leaves, onions and peppercorns) served with red wine shallots and gratin dauphinoise.

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