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For now, it seems, people are largely content to leave tongue to the professionals — willing to taste it, but too intimidated to tackle such an unfamiliar meat in their home kitchens. But Raij insists that it can be part of a home cook’s repertoire. “I grew up eating tongue at home, usually braised in tomato and wine sauce, or boiled and served with salsa and mustard. My friends were always weirded out, but I loved it,” she said.
Bernamoff likewise stressed that preparing tongue is not as mysterious as it seems. “At the restaurant we call it nature’s hot dog because it’s set up with the perfect ratio of fat and flesh that makes it easy to cook,” he said. His forthcoming “Mile End Cookbook: Redefining Jewish Comfort Food from Hash to Hamantaschen,” which he wrote with his wife, Rae, includes a recipe for tongue. Until it hits the shelves, however, I needed a solid recipe to initiate me into the league of tongue. I found what I was looking for on Grow and Behold’s website a spicy beef tongue simmered in a slow cooker until it’s falling-apart tender.
As a former vegetarian and lifelong tongue skeptic, I was nervous — and admittedly, handling a cow’s tongue was a bit rattling. But after an eight-hour braise, the meat was delicately flavored, as fork-tender as brisket, and the perfect base for a not traditionally Jewish but decidedly delicious dish: tongue tacos. Tongue bashers, beware: You might just end up eating your words.
Slow Cooked Beef Tongue Tacos
This recipe is adapted from one found on Grow and Behold’s website. The peppers can be purchased at Middle Eastern shops.
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon ground Aleppo Pepper
1 tablespoon ground ancho pepper
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon coarse-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 beef tongue
1 bottle of light or amber beer
12 corn tortillas, warmed in oven
salsa, chopped cilantro, avocado slices or guacamole, chopped sweet onion and any other desired toppings
1) Place onions and garlic at the bottom of a large slow cooker.
2) Stir together peppers, brown sugar and paprika in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture liberally on all sides of the tongue.
3) Place tongue on top of the onions and garlic and add the bottle of beer. Cook on low until the tongue is fork-tender, approximately 8 hours.
4) Remove tongue from slow cooker and allow to cool until safe to handle. Peel off the outside membrane and discard, then shred the meat by hand.
5) Divide the shredded meat among the tortillas and spoon a little cooking juice over top of each. Layer with desired fixings and serve.
Leah Koenig writes a monthly column on food and culinary trends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.