So good you'll be tongue-tied for more...
Tongue In Your Cheek
by Jefferson Munroe
Tongue: the most consequential organ that shapes what people say about variety meats. Lacking the textural challenges of liver or the visual incongruities of sweetbreads, tongue can be easily transformed into the most succulent, tasty meat. Think of tongue as a gateway variety meat, one to chew on and savor.
There are many tongues in the world, from pig to goat, but the most common tongue one will encounter comes from beef cattle, either calf tongue or ox tongue. They are easy to tell apart, because calf tongue weighs in at one to two pounds, with ox tongues reaching weights between four to five pounds. Think of steers out on the range, flexing their tongues, chewing the cud.
All that chatter leads to a tough, stringy muscle that would offend even your dog if it were grilled up like a steak. Therefore, certain mitigating strategies are required to make the tongue chewable. A rough and tough ox tongue is comprised of long, close muscle fibers that respond to wet, slow cooking. Braising turns this tough collagen into luscious gelatin.
Another line of attack is to brine your tongue. Tongues love a salty, sweet bath. As Michael Ruhlman explains in his book, Charcuterie, “Salt changes the shape of the protein in the meat so that it can actually hold more juice than unbrined meat. Salt allows the protein molecules to expand, to connect more loosely, and thus contain more water within each cell. Salt makes each cell, in essence, plump up.” Brining lowers the populations of harmful bacteria and flavors the meat throughout. The corned tongue recipe uses a week-long brine that results in a versatile meat you can serve cold in a salad, fried up in a hash, or sliced in your next Reuben
Once you’ve got a softened tongue, the world opens up limitless possibilities. Feed it to your children and they will grow inches overnight; to your friends and they’ll want nothing but to heap praises upon your head; to a loving partner (or potential lover) and they’ll find you instantly more attractive. If you think all this is true, then my recipe for lamb tongue may change your life…