Saturday, November 13, 2010

#258 Boiled Ox Tongue: To Serve Cold

Hello there Grigsoners! No, I’ve not died, I have simply been a lazy bastard. I am going to stop apologising for my blog-tardiness and try my very best to pull my finger out. All that said, I have been preparing this recipe on the sly for the last few days. I went to Central Market with Gerda from the lab a while ago and found that quite alot of the ingredients that are tricky to get hold of in the UK are actually much easier to get hold of here in Texas. In the meat section, I happened upon an ox tongue and I knew that there are quite a few recipes using ox tongue specifically so I thought I’d grab it and do something with it later.

I decided upon this one – Boiled Ox Tongue: to Serve Cold, because I could take it into work and force my new labmates to eat it and (hopefully) put some comments on here! The recipe calls for a 2 ½ to 5 pound pickled (i.e. brined) ox tongue – these you can order form your butcher (in the UK at least). I thought I would pickle it myself using this now tried-and-tested brine method from English Food. The tongue needs 5 to 7 days in the brine tub, but there is no maximum time really - you can’t oversalt anything, because you can soak it in water for 6 or so hours beforehand. It’s recommended you do this with a pickled tongue from the butcher’s shop.


The tongue before brining
 Anyways, after you have soaked your tongue place in a stock pot and cover with cold water or a light stock. Bring it to the boil and skim any scum that appears at the water’s surface. Turn the heat down to the merest simmer. After half an hour, taste the water – if it is horribly salty, thrown the water away and start again. Add some stock vegetables: an onion studded with a couple of cloves and a chopped carrot and celery stick. Add also a bouquet garni and 12 crushed black peppercorns. Allow the whole thing to simmer for a total of 3 or 4 hours (don’t forget to include that first half hour!). The tongue is cooked when you can insert a skewer with ease.

The pressed but unsliced tongue
Remove the tongue from the water and allow it to cool slightly. Peel away the skin and remove any gristly bits from the thick end. The tongue is now ready to be pressed. Coil the tongue and place it in a 5 or 6 inch loose-bottomed cake tin with base removed. If you can’t get hold of one (I couldn’t) you could invest in a proper tongue press. I actually used a straight sided mixing bowl that I happened to have and it worked very well. Place the tin base on top (or something similar) along with a couple of tins of food and allow to cool and press for several hours or overnight. When cool, transfer to the fridge.


When you are ready to eat it, slice it thinly and serve with a salad and some horseradish sauce so says Lady Jane Griggers. If you want to be all Victorian about it ‘press the tongue into a slipper shape, and then decorate it with aspic jelly and bits and pieces’. However, The Grigson goes on to say: ‘I think we have lost sympathy with over-presented food of this kind: it always arouses my suspicious – I wonder what the caterer is trying to conceal.



FYI: the tongue is the only muscle in the body not attached at both ends.

#258 Boiled Ox Tongue: To Serve Cold. I’ve not had much experience of eating tongue, except the kind you get already sliced for sandwiches and always found it a little bit on the tasteless side and have never really cared for it. This was much better, though didn’t pack much of a flavour-punch; which was a shame because when I pulled it hot out of the stock, it smelt absolutely delicious. Perhaps I over-cooked it. Anyways, this tongue was wonderfully tender and moist due to its high fat content and gelatinous qualities. Nice, but I’m not doing back-flips: 5/10.

6 comments:

Joan E. Strassmann said...

I thought the tongue was delicious. Its taste was the perfect foil for the horseradish sauce. If something can taste old-fashioned, this did. I can't really remember when I grew to like tongue, but I do. It's really more flavorful than most meats, especially prepared this way. Neil's the best, even brought rolls and lettuce for us to enjoy it properly, though it might have been a tad warm out, easily 25.

Kirsty Hughes said...

That's a lot of effort for a 5/10 Neil! Was it gross peeling it? Sounds like the faint hearted, i.e. me, would struggle. Well done on your efforts though.

Neil B said...

I still haven't made up my mind about it. I think I'll do another tongue recipe soon and see...

Silven said...

I'm glad I didn't see the tongue before it was cooked, I'm squeamish that way! But it was quite moist and flavorful, and horseradish went well with it.

dusty said...

Delicious. Boiled up and moulded two tongues with a few sheets of gelatin last night. Had a slice on toast this morning for breakfast and it was lovely. Well worth the effort.

Neil B said...

Thanks for the message, dusty!
I am curing another tongue so i can do another recipe this weekend. not quite sure what yet though...