A little tongue for Santa

by Matt Ruff on December 25, 2011

…or actually, a big tongue, about four pounds. Last night’s cooking experiment was “Tongue with Madeira Sauce,” from James Peterson’s Meat: A Kitchen Education.

You start by simmering the tongue in water for five minutes, then rinsing it in cold water. The blanched tongue then goes into a heavy pot with a chopped carrot and a quartered onion (the white thing that looks like an upside-down slipper is the skin after the initial blanching):

Insert clever joke about cat getting your tongue

This goes uncovered into a 400°F oven for an hour. Then a braising liquid of chicken or beef broth and Madeira is added, along with a bouquet garni, and the pot is covered and left to simmer over a low flame for another two hours. The tongue then comes out of the braising liquid and the skin—which is very loose at this point—is removed and discarded. The braising liquid is strained, skimmed of fat, and reduced by about half. Finally the tongue and the reduced braising liquid go back into the pot and into the oven for another half hour at 400°F, basting every ten minutes.

And then, at last, it’s ready to serve:

Just to give you a sense of the size, this is a 13-inch-long platter.

To serve, you cut crosswise into thin slices, and plate with a little of the braising liquid:

You can also serve it over salad greens, and make sandwiches with the leftovers.

As for the taste, it’s beef. It’s a tough muscle-meat cut—hence the long braise—but the only thing odd about it is the texture of the outermost layer of muscle, which reminds me a little of octopus. Roast beef-flavored octopus.

My final verdict: Awesome visual, and not bad tasting, but too much work for anything other than a special occasion.

Tonight: hasenpfeffer.

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