Ugly but delicious. These are the two words that best describe this 1,5 kg unique piece of meat. With its pleasant, silky texture that is much softer than what you would expect from an average meat and its strong, unmistakable ‘beefy’ taste it is a delicacy every meat lover should try once. Those who are willing to overcome their prejudice and wait out long, long hours of cooking will be rewarded with an experience that is unlike any other. Love it or hate it.
Since I am back in Kiev again since January, I try to take full advantage of the huge market in one of the northern districts that I visit regularly. Here you can find all kind of good stuff, like fresh organic vegetables and all kinds of meat for a bargain price. Especially if you earn in Pounds or Dollars, since the local currency saw a sort of collapse in February. For example, you can by a kilo of veal mince now for less than £2. Souns like a good deal to me!
It was on one of these “market patrols” when I ran across this huge, fresh-looking beef tongue on one of the stands. Apparently its looks doesn’t stop it from being a looked for delicacy as it was rather pricy despite the aforementioned currency collapse, but it looked so much freshet than those I saw in supermarkets that I decided to go for it.
Cooked beef tongue can be consumed in a variety of ways – you can eat it cold as a starter, or stuff it into a sandwich, for example, but my favourite way is by far to serve it fresh and steaming, with mock hunter sauce and sautéed bread.
Ingredients (for a small army):
- 1 whole beef tongue (appx. 1,5 kg)
- 100g smoked bacon
- 4 large carrots
- 1 parsnip
- 1 onion
- 1 green onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 3 bay leaves
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- black pepper
Wash the tongue and place it into a fittingly large pan. Fill the pan with enough water to cover the tongue and on high heat bring it to a boil. Turn down the heat to shimmering, and wait until a grey foam forms on top of the water. Remove and discard the foam with a spoon. Then, add 2 tbsp salt and 2 bay leaves to the water and make yourself busy with something else for at least 2 hours.
After about 2 hours take out the tongue and check if the white outer layer comes off easily. If it does, peel it off completely and discard it. If it doesn’t come easy yet, put the tongue back and boil it for another half an hour or more.
When you managed to get rid of the outer layer, put the tongue back in the water again and continue boiling until it is soft and the tip of the knife runs into it with ease. It will probably take at least another hour or more. Don’t rush it. When done, turn of the heat and leave it in the water until ready to serve.
This is how the fully cooked tongue looks like.
Isn’t it beautiful?
The Mock Hunter Sauce
You can start making the mock hunter sauce when the tongue is almost cooked. Clean the carrots and parsnip and cut them into rings. Clean and finely chop a medium-sized onion as well as the green onion (the latter is optional). Grate the garlic cloves and cut the bacon into tiny cubes.
You will start with heating up a pan with a thin layer of oil and fry the chopped onion together with the bacon. Then the bacon is almost crispy, add the carrot and parsnip, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, green onion one bay leaf and a little of the tongue cooking water. Cover the pan with a lid and steam the vegetables on low heat with occasional stirring.
When the carrots start to soften, add a teaspoon of salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and continue to steam it until everything is soft.
Then, turn off the heat and let it cool a bit. Remove the bay leaf and transfer the vegs into a blender cup then turn them into a pulp with the blender. When done, transfer it back to the pan. In another, smaller pan caramelise 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar in a little oil, then mix it thoroughly with a heaping tbsp of white flour. Use low heat in order not to burn it. When done, add it to the vegetable sauce, heat it all up and mix. Add the juice of 1/4 lemon, stir thoroughly. Taste and add more of the spices as needed. When done, turn off the heat.
In a clean pan melt plenty of butter, mix in 1 clove of crushed garlic and sauté some baguette slices (or simply bread) on it. When done, sprinkle the top with dried parsley.
Starting with the tip of the tongue, cut thin slices out of it and lay it on a plate. Serve it with the mock hunter sauce (for dipping) and the sautéed bread. Bon appetit!
Note: keep the remaining tongue refrigerated in its own cooking water to prevent it from drying out.
Such a meal is craving for some epic viking metal don’t you think? Their name inspired by norse mythology, Månegarm is an excellent viking/pagan/black metal band from Norrtälje, Sweden. My choice fell on their song Nattsjäl, drömsjäl (Night Sould, Dream Soul) for this post.