Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gimme A Little Tongue

Ok, how about a couple of little tongues? Veal tongues, to be exact.

Once again, it's time to post my response to this month's Charcutapalooza March Challenge--Brining. In keeping with my theme on using the hand-raised meadow veal from my farm for as many of the challenges as possible, I knew I had to pickle tongue for this month's assignment.

I've always been a big fan of tongue. A rare treat when I was growing up, I remember how my brother and sister got to feel the scratchy surface of the strange organ before Mom peeled it.

While living in Santa Barbara, the Gonzales brothers took me to La Super Rica Taqueria on Milpas Street. "Always eat where there are lots of Mexicans if you want authentic Mexican food," they told me and then promptly ordered me a plate of tacos de lengua. The velvety meat with fresh salsa on warm handmade tortillas was pure heaven. In twenty years of frequenting the joint, I never ordered anything else.

After moving back to Pennsylvania, my tongue consumption fell off until one of my goat customers--an elderly rabbi who came to the farm for the staples of his Sedar dinner--shared some of his pickled Kosher tongue he brought along for lunch. "This is the way my grandmother and my mother made it," he told me. Knowing I had a great appreciation for wonderful food, when I asked if I could have the recipe, she smiled and pulled an index card from his pocket. "I knew you would ask," he said.

Since giving up refined sugar, I've replaced the brown sugar with pure maple syrup, but other than that, the recipe remains unchanged.

Rabbi Hirschel's Pickled Tongue

2-3 beef tongues

1/2 cup Kosher salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon allspice berries

2 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

4 bay leaves

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 chunks fresh or crystallized ginger

1 teaspoon paprika or 1 dried chili pepper

3 cups water

Bring water to a boil and add all the brine ingredients. Stir until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Let cool. Clean and rinse raw tongues. Place in clean glass jar and cover with cooled cooled brine. Add enough cold water to cover tongues completely. Refrigerate for at least two weeks, but can be kept up to six weeks in brine.

To cook, remove from brine, cover with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove tongue from cooking water and replace with fresh water. Repeat process three times and on the last boil, turn down and simmer for two hours.

Remove tongue from liquid. While still warm, peel outer skin from meat. Can be served warm or chilled.


  1. I presume the tongue is raw going into the brine, since it is later cooked?

  2. Yes, edits made to reflect that. Thanks.