By taking the few minutes to brine the tongue in advance, you will be rewarded with moist and tender meat. Each bite delicious in a sort of dreamy way. I adapted this recipe from my old-school Foods of the Azores Islands by Deolinda Maria Avila, lovingly donated to my cookbook collection by my mom.
If I were back in my grandparents home, we would stay at the table for a long while anyway. Our plates piled high from the start, and the insistence that my sister and I finish every last bite. My grandma, would have served this tongue with garlic-y greens over a generous serving of polenta (but go with whatever you’ve got). Most of the cook time is simply poaching the tongue and allowing it to re-warm in the sauce. Each step is pretty simple and can be prepared in advance since the poached tongue can remain in its poaching liquid for a couple of days in the fridge. Read more from the commentary to this recipe.
Recipe Moderator Notes: We recommend that all the beef tongue be 100% pasture-raised, the vegetables, herbs and spices be organically grown, and the salt be unrefined.
Ingredients For the Brine (Optional)
- 1 beef tongue
- 1/2 gallon water
- 4 oz salt
- 1 t peppercorns, crushed
- 1/2 t allspice berries, crushed
- 3 cloves garlic
- A few sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Ingredients to Pouch the Tongue
- 1 cow’s tongue (optionally brined)
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 carrot, in large slices
- 1 celery stick, in large slices
- 1 head garlic, halved
- 6 peppercorns
- 6 allspice berries
- 1 bay leaf
- A few stems of parsley
- A few sprigs of thyme
Ingredients to Prepare the Tongue
- 1 cow’s tongue, peeled
- 3 t ghee
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/8 t allspice
- 1/8 t cinnamon
- 3/4 t paprika
- 1 15 oz can tomatoes
- 1 c broth
- Optionally, prepare a brine and when cool, soak tongue for up to 2 days. Prepare brine by adding water to a pot and adding remaining ingredients: salt, peppercorns, allspice berries, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Heat water and stir occasionally until all salt is dissolved. (it’s a very saturated solution and unlikely to absorb all the salt without heating.) At that point, turn off heat, and pour into a jar to cool. Make sure that the brine is cooled completely. Once cool, pour the brine over the tongue, set in the fridge, and soak for up to two days.
- To poach the tongue, add the tongue to a pot with water to cover by at least an inch or two. Bring to a boil, and then return heat to medium-low or low. Skim any foam that has risen to the surface, then add aromatics: onion, carrot, celery, garlic, peppercorns, allspice berries, and your bouquet garni. Cover the pot so that water does not evaporate too quickly leaving the tongue exposed. If parts of your tongue are floating, try to keep the bottom back part up so that all the thick skin on the top of the tongue remains submerged. Poach for about 2 hours.
- Remove tongue and set on a plate to cool. Reserve liquid. As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, peel the tongue. After it’s been peeled, it is ready to be used, but can be returned to it’s poaching liquid for up to a day or two. Regardless, reserve the liquid for using later in the week, for cooking grains or making soup.
- To prepare the final dish, saute onion in ghee until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir. When fragrant, in about 30 seconds to a minute, add allspice, cinnamon, paprika and salt. Stir well, add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, slice tongue into 1/2-inch slices. Reduce heat to low, add the tongue. Cover and let simmer until warm throughout or up to an hour to absorb more flavor, turning slices occasionally.