WHAT ON EARTH ???
why, yes...it is a cow's tongue.
this, by far, is the most challenging item i have cooked so far.
i've cooked Pig's Tails, Chicken Feet, Turkey Tails, Pig Ears, Snouts and Trotters, just to name a few...
but the tongue has escaped me...until NOW.
i've been wrestling with the idea for quite some time and i finally took the challenge head on...so to speak.
of course, in Southern California we have some fabulous Mexican food. lucky for us we also have quite a few fabulous Mexican/Latino markets. but...if you're in the neighborhood of Newport Beach/Costa Mesa i highly suggest you try a tiny little place called El Toro Bravo Tortillaria for one of THE BEST AUTHENTIC MEXICAN STREET TACOS. it's at the end of a tiny little strip mall on 19th street in Costa Mesa. AND as the name implies, it is also a Tortillaria factory so you are guaranteed the freshest tortillas.
portions are HUGE and prices are low...well worth the road trip, but be prepared for a hole in the wall looking place and a long line at lunch time.
back to MY tongue. after trying the Lengua at El Toro Bravo, and loving it, i decided it was time to try my hand at it.
WHOA !!! what a monstrous chunk of ugly meat. the texture alone is enough to scare one running for the hills. after it's cooked it gets even worse...not until you have conquered the actual peeling of the outer layer and cutting the thing up does it get any better. when i say put your game face on I'M NOT KIDDING.
the good news is...IT'S DEEE-LICIOUS !!!
INGREDIENTS FOR COOKING THE TONGUE
1 beef tongue (3 - 4 lbs)
2 large onions
8 - 10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5 - 6 bay leaves
1 Tbsp peppercorns
2 Tbsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 heaping Tbsp Mexican oregano
FOR THE TACOS
fresh corn tortillas
pico de gallo...or fresh salsa of choice
chopped white onion
COOKING THE TONGUE...
#1...put your game face on.
fill a large stock pot with water. bring to a boil and put the tongue in for about 5 minutes. remove tongue, discard the water and clean the pot...this is to remove any impurities.
fill the stock pot with water about 2/3 full. add the tongue, onions, crushed garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, oregano, cumin and salt. bring to a boil. reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 3 hours, until tongue is soft to the touch and fork tender.
remove the tongue from the water and cool for a couple of minutes...until is is cool enough to handle.
DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG...i was busy taking the photo and not thinking it would matter, i took my time. it is harder to peel if the tongue has sat too long. trust me...you do not want to spend a lot of time with the tongue in it's whole form trying to peel all the outer layer off.
i found it most unpleasant to peel skin off of a tongue...,BUT i'll admit it was kinda cool.
TO PEEL...notice the light colored skin covering most of the tongue. using your fingers and a sharp small knife, remove the covering and discard. there is no other way to describe this step. you just have to experience it for yourself.
NOTE...notice the rough patch of meat where the tongue would attach to the bottom of the mouth...you may remove this if you don't like the looks of it. i kept most of it. mine wasn't to rough and ugly looking. i did not want to waste any of the good edible meat.
after spending all morning and most of the afternoon with my tongue, i was over it for that day. i took a small amount out and packed the rest away.
if not using right away....slice it in 1/2 inch, or so, thick slices, cover with strained cooking liquid and store in an airtight container. i like to strain the broth before adding it back to the product that has cooked.
TO PREPARE FOR TACOS...reheat your slices either in a saute pan with a little oil until lightly browned or you can simply reheat in it's own juices in the microwave.
dice into small cubes, mince or you can shred...check your seasoning for salt and pepper and you're ready to build your tacos.
Mexican street tacos are pretty straight forward...FRESH TORTILLAS ARE KEY...then it's just meat, onions, cilantro and fresh salsa. in America we tend to load them up with all kinds of other unnecessary items, but go ahead and help yourself with a little extra trimmings if you need to disguise the tongue on your first try. work your way into it.
i'll bet if you'll be amazed at how good a tongue could taste...
some how that doesn't sound right...
so...what do you say...
ARE YOU UP FOR THE CHALLENGE ???