Eating Nose to Tail


Saturday night I went to a friends house for dinner, and because I have eaten so much tongue over the past week I thought I would bring what's left of it with me.  My thinking was this way I would be contributing to dinner as well as getting rid of the tongue.  Truthfully, I'm not sure how much more tongue I can take.

This concoction is once again a tribute to Fergus Henderson.  In The Whole Beast Mr. Henderson does a salad with chunks of bread, various lettuces and thin slices of cold tongue.  This is dressed with his green sauce, of which I have a lot left over from earlier this week.  Mr. Henderson also inspired me to try radish top salad, which has since turned into one of my favorites, so instead of searching out many different lettuces I used radish tops.

I began by thinly slicing the tongue.

Slices of tongue, and what's left of the tip
In a large bowl I placed a few good spoonfuls of the green sauce, followed by my chunks of old bread.  That was left to sit for awhile so that the bread could soak up the sauce.  I washed the radish tops really well (they tend to be really gritty) and then placed the thin slices of tongue on top of the bread and sauce.
There is sauce and bread under all that tongue.
Once the radish tops were dry and grit free the whole mess gets tossed together, loosened with more sauce and olive oil and re-seasoned.
Looks a little weird, I have to admit.
The final product was actually pretty good.  The  crusty bread soaked up the sauce, the radish tops gave some lightness as well as some pepperiness, and the thinly sliced tongue worked well with everything and managed to not steal the show.
That's the tongue on the top left of the plate.  With it are some roasted potatoes and pesto, a lamb chop and some deep fried eggplant.  It was all delicious.

My host for dinner is taking the rest of the tongue to a culinary school where he's an instructor to be eaten by students.  I had a good run with the tongue, but I'm afraid in the end the tongue was simply way too much food for a person who likes variety in their diet.  Lesson learned, don't make a corned beef tongue unless BOTH people in the household like it and want to eat it constantly for a week.  I will make corned beef tongue again, but probably not for quite a while. 

All in all a good experience.  I can now say I have corned something (maybe I'll do a brisket soon) and the beef tongue holds much less mystery then it did a month ago.

I love lunch, it's my favorite meal.  Long leisurely lunches shared with friends and multiple bottles of wine, quick lunches standing on the street, lunch by myself at home with the contents of my fridge.  All of them.

Today I had a tongue sandwich, with a few slices of tomatoes and a good smear of mustard.  Once again I did fry my tongue slices, as I've said previously I think this is my favorite way of eating corned beef tongue.

Sliced tongue with some tomatoes before it's fried.
The slices of tongue are fried until the edges are crispy and then left to rest while the rest of my sammie gets assembled.  A smear of dijon on the bottom of the bun, followed by my sliced tomatoes.  The fried tongue goes on top and then the top of the bun.
The fully assembled sandwich.
This is a truly great sandwich.  The tongue is slightly crispy from being fried but still very meaty, the tomatoes are  juicy and the mustard is tart.
The last few bites.
There is definitely room in my sandwich repertoire for this bad boy. 

So far I've had a quick snack, lunch and dinner with this tongue.  Not to mention the slices that have been given away to curious friends.  And it still looks like I'll be eating this tongue a few more times, I'm thinking a tongue hash for brunch may be in my future.

Starting on this venture I never would have guessed that corned beef tongue would be as versatile as it is, but it seems like it can be worked into every meal of the day.  At least to those of us who are willing to face tongue first thing in the morning.

This is the first meal of tongue.  Very simply I thinly sliced the tongue and fried the slices with a little oil and served it with Fergus Hendersons green sauce and some mashed potatoes alongside some nice broccoli and beans fresh from the market.

Tongue in the pan.
I'm pretty thrilled with how the tongue turned out, and I realised that it would be a lot of food but it's truly amazing how much meat you get out of one tongue.  A tongue that I paid 12$ for at my local Asian market.
Average dinner chaos.
Fried is going to be my favorite way to eat this creation, I can feel it. The savory tongue get's a little crunch from a quick turn in the pan, which goes a long way towards making this a very accessible dish to those who are not excited about having a tongue in their mouths that they weren't born with.
Dinner, in all its glory.
The green sauce was a little surprising.  When I first tried it with a bite of tongue, my reaction was 'I must have done this wrong' but after a few more bites the reaction changed to 'well, this is kinda good, isn't it?' and by the end of supper it was 'Mr. Henderson is really very clever'.  Goes to show, do not judge a sauce by the first bite.

It seems that between my writing for about bargain hunting at farmers markets and eating all of these wonderful and mind bogglingly cheap cuts of meat and offal I will be eating very well through this recession.

Now that my tongue is defrosted it's going into a pot with two carrots (tops included) two onions, a handful of garlic cloves, a couple celery stalks and about a dozen peppercorns.

Before I added the water.
The whole mess gets covered in cold water, then brought up to a boil for three and a half to four hours.
Boiling for about an hour and a half.
Once you can pierce the tongue with a sharp knife and there's little to no resistance it's done.  Remove it from the pot and when it's cool enough to handle but still warm take that sharp knife and peel the skin off the tongue.
Tongue peelin'
The skin comes off remarkably easily.  There should be a mound of tongue meat on the bottom of the tongue that I simply trimmed off and ate as a snack.
My snack.
This is a rather large piece of meat, so we'll be eating it for supper for a few days and I'll be having it for lunch a few times.  

The taste is truly remarkable.  The curing process it went through for a week in my fridge gave it a salty savory flavor with a mild hint of the juniper berries and allspice.  The texture did not lose anything from being frozen, as far as I can tell.  Thinly sliced the tongue is meaty and definitely beefy but with none of the offally liver taste that some tongue I've had in the past can have.  If you put this in a sandwich with a nice slice of tomato and some mustard you could please even those who are dead set against eating offal.  It's that yummy.

Fergus Henderson deserves all the credit for how well this came out.  Although I did change a few things this is his recipe for boiled ox tongue out of The Whole Beast, which if you don't own already I heartily recommend.

For my first meal of tongue I'll be serving it with boiled potatoes, Fergus Henderson's green sauce and maybe some sort of veggie  Right now I'm happily going to munch on my long awaited tongue, with a little dijon mustard. 

Finally I'm back on track with my tongue.  I will be boiling it for dinner tomorrow and serving it with with potatoes, Fergus Henderson's green sauce and green beans.  Felt like I had to share an image of my frozen brined tongue. 

Looks kinda fetal.  Creepy.

I'm hoping that the freezing hasn't affected the taste or texture too much.  We'll find out tomorrow around supper time.

I'm home for the time being, but I'm afraid my tongue is still in the freezer.  My plan is to thaw it this weekend and proceed with it early next week.  Just wanted to say a quick THANK YOU to Ryan Adams at for being so supportive of this site.  Ryan also does the weekly post 'Offal of the Week' for which I think is super neat.  Both really wicked websites, I suggest a look.

Since I've been home I have not really had time to grocery shop, but I did go out and spoil myself with a nice big bowl of pho earlier today so I thought I'd share some thoughts about that.  Pho is pretty much the national food of Vietnam, it's wonderfully beefy and noodly by itself but it's normally served with a plate of accompaniments like bean sprouts and fresh herbs that make the soup hearty and yet still fresh.

The restaurant I go to serves a 'special pho' which includes raw eye of round (the hot broth cooks the meat), brisket, tripe and tendon.  The tendon in this soup is amazing; I have no idea how to cook tendon, but this soup may inspire me to learn.

Ethnic restaurants and groceries of various kinds are a great place to go in search of new and different foods, and they can be especially good for those of us who like offal, and other lesser used parts of the animal.  In fact my favorite Mexican restaurant down the street offers tongue taco's (which may be part of the inspiration for my tongue adventure) and tripe soup on the weekend.

Anyhow, what's a blog post without visuals, so here's my lunch complete with side dish of bean sprouts, Thai basil and lime wedges.  These accompaniments can change depending on what part of Asia you are in.  Noodle soups like pho are common all over Asia.  In fact the best I had when I was there was in Laos.  Here's the post about some of the soups I had when I was in Asia last year.

And for those of you who want a closer look at the tendon and tripe here they are.  The tripe is cut into this strips, and the tendon has a wonderful firm gelatinous texture.
I should be back to cooking things for myself this weekend, but it was good to remember that I can still embrace nose to tail eating outside of my own kitchen.

Because of an urgent family situation I'll be out of the country for the rest of the week.  Sadly, my tongue is going to have to wait until I get back  The plan is to take the tongue out of the brine, rinse it, freeze it and then give it an nice slow thaw and proceed with the boiling, peeling and eating when I get back.

My apologies for the delay, hopefully I'll be back next week.


Just a quick update on the tongue.  It's been four days since it went in the brine, and there is a startling change in its colour.  It seems to have turned purple, almost like it's been sneaking into the freezer and getting friendly with a grape popsicle.

I guess that makes sense, the brine is really salty and the blood in the tongue is being drawn out making it seem more purple.   The brine itself has taken on a pinkish colour, which I suppose supports my theory. Now I've never done this before, so if there is anybody out there who  can give a more detailed explanation as to why my tongue is purple I'd be much obliged.

The tongue will be going into the pot on Wednesday for its nice long boil, more then.

This is going to be a multi-entry series about the process of making a corned beef tongue.  I'll be brining my tongue for one week, after that the tongue will be ready for a nice long boil, and a peel.  Then all that's left to do is eat.   One tongue will be plenty of food for two people, which is the amount I generally cook for. I'm thinking of making some tongue sandwiches, maybe a hash and I will definitely be making Fergus Henderson's tongue and bread.

First the brine.  I'm using Fergus Henderson's ratio of 2 cups sugar to 2 1/4 cup salt (I used kosher) dissolved into 2 quarts of water, then I added 12 peppercorns, 12 juniper berries and 5 whole allspice berries. Brought this mixture up to a boil, then poured it into a couple bowls and cups to cool.  

Now the tongue.  I simply rinsed my beef tongue and put it in a bowl.  Now you're not supposed to use metal bowls to brine things, but this is the bowl I've always used so I'm using it again.  If I had a non-reactive bowl I would use that instead, but I don't.
This seems like as good a time as any to introduce my partner Ross, who inevitably eats the dishes I make for this site.  Ross did not grow up eating many of the foods that I prepare for ENT, but he has a great palate and a sense of adventure when it come to what he'll put in his mouth. Ross is also a great writer and if I can manage it hopefully he'll make a dish and write a piece sometime in the future.  Because he didn't grow up eating tongue and headcheese I'll use him as a point of reference for those of you who are curious about these foods, but still a little skeptical. 

Back to the tongue.
I'm going to submerge my tongue in this brine for a week in the fridge.  Nestled happily between my sweet tofu pudding and Inga my sourdough starter.
This is definitely one of those recipe you have to plan in advance, hopefully it will be worth it.  Either way it's kinda cool to have a giant tongue in the fridge.