Beef tongue with its subtle flavor is considered a delicacy by many. In South Africa corned or pickled tongue is more commonly used than fresh tongue. Fresh tongue can be found here at some Mexican stores and Farmers’ Markets although I have yet come across a pickled tongue.
This year I eventually tracked down a tongue at the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers’ Market! It took a number of visits to get one and I am now waiting for a second tongue. This one I would like to pickle, something I have not done before. The recipe below is for fresh tongue – not corned or pickled – although the cooking method is basically the same. See Notes with recipe.
At home, cold-meal summer fare often included pickled tongue and corned beef – both much enjoyed in our household.
- 1 beef tongue, about 2½ pounds
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 large carrot, chunked
- 2-3 sticks celery, cut into pieces
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 8-10 peppercorns
- 5-6 whole cloves
- 1-2 tablespoons salt
- Rinse the tongue and place it in a large, heavy-based saucepan with all the ingredients and enough water to cover the tongue.
- Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and adjust the temperature to keep it at a steady simmer for 3½- 4 hours. Add boiling water as needed to keep the tongue covered.
- Test the tongue with a skewer or large fork. It should be very tender – almost like a heated knife going through butter!
- Remove from the heat and transfer the tongue to a bowl of icy cold water. This is to release the skin from the flesh – it doesn’t always work perfectly.
- When cool enough to handle, carefully skin the tongue and trim the base of any unwanted fatty bits, glands or vessels.
- Return to the brine until needed.
- Fresh tongue can be served hot or cold. It may need additional salt as it could be considered insipid compared to the corned variety.
- Tongue is complemented by a good mustard, mustard sauce or fruity raisin sauce.
Once skinned and trimmed, the tongue may be shaped into a round and placed in a small bowl, rinsed with cold water.
Strain a few cups of the liquid in which the tongue was cooked and add some gelatin (refer to pack for gelatin to liquid ratio).
Cover the tongue with this liquid.
Chill well before un-molding and carving.