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.