I find myself with an afternoon full of opportunity to be productive on Sundays. The girlfriend lives in Florida and Church is over by 10:30am. Of course things may change as the business opens and picks up steam. So I cannot guarantee the fate of this endeavor. For all I I know, this may be the first and last "The Sunday Project."
Recently my family has purchased a calf share from Yonder Way Farm (and in case you missed it, yes, I am 28 and live at home with my mother and father). Most of the cuts are traditional and very familiar. However, in the spirit of leaving nothing to waste, the organs are included. This time around, we ended up with the tongue. My mother was not interested and it was pretty much destined for either the trash or the dogs. In the spirit of adventure (not really my strong suit), I offered to give it a go while they were out of town. Here is the account of my attempt!
A quick Facebook poll taught me two things: 1) Cow tongue is not that crazy, at least not to more people than I expected, and 2) apparently beef tongue tacos "al pastor" are a huge thing! I was pointed in the direction of PaleoNick.com and his recipe for this "popular" dish. Using Nick's extremely professional and well done video/recipe as my guide, I did my best to get things right.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a cook of any sort. I am awesome at fresh salads, canned sardines and tuna and anything else that is able to be prepared without much cooking. Also, my words are not awesome. Beyond "its good," "it's really good." "Oh my gosh this is amazing," and "this is horse shit," I could not accurately describe food in detail to save my life.Basically, if you need me to point out some primary colors, I am your guy. But if you need me to recognize the hew of the art, you're out of luck. I think that makes sense.
Paleo Nick makes things very simple to follow. The tongue should be submerged in water in a container that will both be used on the stove top as well as in the oven. Throw in a pinch or two of salt (always two, don't be shy) and leave the heat on high. The top should be covered in tin foil.
In the meantime turn your oven on and preheat it at 350 degrees. Once the water begins to boil on the stove top, it all goes into the oven (tin foil and all!). Here is where you'll have some free time! The tongue is going to sit in the oven for 5 1/2 hours! Go read a book or plot your takeover of the world! Be productive!
After 5 1/2 hours, pull it out and let her sit for a bit. There are no specifics here. I let it sit for 30 minutes. No idea if there is a benefit to letting it sit out longer or for less time. One thing to note, in case you are concerned it needs more time in the oven, poke the bottom of the meat with a knife. The knife should cut in like it was going into butter.
So here is the only "weird" part of the process. The tongue definitely still looks and feels like a tongue. You must cut the skin off and throw it away. This is not terrible to take care of. Cutting a line down the bottom of the tongue will allow for you to peel the skin away easy-peasy. Again, only weird part of the whole thing. Now you are just dealing with some good ol' tender beef.
Cut the beef into four long pieces (1/2 then 1/2 &1/2, duh!) and begin to dice/cube or whatever the term for cutting into equal sized small pieces. These are for tacos so keep that in mind. Once you've prepped the meat, go ahead and put a large pan over some heat. Add olive oil once hot.
Here's where my lack of fancy becomes apparent. Paleo Nick in his professionalism and unmatched skill and preparedness, uses fresh garlic. I, in my amateurism, discomfort with cooking in general and lack of motivation to go to the store used garlic salt. The stuff with the lime green lid? Yes, that stuff. I also used some chili powder from Penzeys (seriously check them out if you have not already). So once you've added those two items, throw in another pinch or two of salt (never enough salt) and stir to keep the cooking even.
In the same vein of me using garlic salt instead of fresh garlic, I also went with canned pineapple instead of a fresh pineapple. Now I did not go total bonehead and pour the pineapple straight in. I drank all of the pineapple juice (who doesn't love pineapple juice?!) then poured the contents into a bowl. From their I spooned the pineapple onto a pile of paper towels to "dry it off" even more. A fresh pineapple is not exactly dripping when you slice it up. Now throw the pineapple into the pan.
The goal would be to get a nice crust formed on the tender beef. I think I was moderately successful. Successful enough for me to feel proud which is all that really matters.
Tacos are meant to be served with tortillas. And, in my factually opinion, those tortillas were meant to be the flour kind. You can keep your commie corn tortillas to yourself. BUT, as we know, we are no longer caving into whatever we crave. So here's the challenge. Go with a lettuce wrap instead of tortillas at all. The beef and the pineapple offers so much flavor already (even more so if you follow Paleo Nick instead of me) that there is no need for the flour blankets anyways!
Let me just say, at least when it is prepared this way, cow tongue is AMAZING! It's definitely a little fatty and although it smells a bit like vienna sausages when it first comes out of the water, it has a delicious buttery flavor (no idea if thats accurate but it's what I think of). So if you ever find yourself with a cow tongue that you have no idea what to do with, this is the recipe for you!