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Tongue. It’s What’s For Dinner.

February 24, 2013

My farmer friend Jeremy handed me a white butcher paper-wrapped package of responsibility recently.


I brought it upon myself, actually. I sorta casually said to him at the farmers market, “Whaddya got that is an unusual cut, something that isn’t moving?”

He rummaged in his coolers, grinned and handed me one beef tongue, adding helpfully that he hears it makes the best tacos. Thinking about it now I have to wonder about his tone. It almost sounded like he himself has never eaten tongue, but that can’t be right! Mental note to check in with him on that…

Meantime, I have the responsibility of doing something with this tongue. There are only so many filets and porterhouses and such on a cow. At some point, noisy whole animal advocates such as me have to face the fact that the tongue is there and must also be treated with respect. Unless you buy a whole cow yourself though, it is possible to pay lip service to the whole animal idea without actually following through. I do use whole chickens and turkeys and love to save bones and all for stock, but hmmm…a beef tongue is a different matter. And I’ll admit that I’ve never cooked with tongue before. I’ve had it pickled at a fancypants restaurant once and it was delicious. My experience with it ends there, I’ll admit.

But hey, I’m up for the challenge, so I’ll google and read my meat cookery books and maybe consult a few chef friends and it’ll be great! Truthfully, the real challenge may be a social one – convincing my wife and any other dinner guests that they should eat tongue with me. Wish me luck!

And thanks Jeremy!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Ginny Morin permalink
    February 24, 2013 2:23 pm

    I used to often order lengua en salsa in a mexican restaurant on Clark St. It was one of my favorites. It had onion, red and green peppers etc, etc. and was delicious and tender. It’s great inside a corn tortilla

  2. February 25, 2013 7:07 am

    Grant, first, I think you need to add a “pun intended” aside after your “lip service” phrase! Second, isn’t it OK to use parts of the animal for things like dog food or dog treats? Why do humans have to eat it, as long as it’s not being wasted? (We vegetarians are off the hook anyway, though, right?)

  3. February 25, 2013 11:25 am

    Remembering great tongue sandwiches from a deli in Syracuse, where I grew up… good luck, Grant! Btw, are you going to hear Michael Pollan talk at Elmhurst College in April? Cheers!

    • Marty permalink
      May 24, 2013 9:07 pm

      I also grew up in Syracuse and remember tongue sandwiches and sliced tongue by the pound at several Syracuse delis (Meltzer’s, Pickles, Richmans). Went to grad school in Cleveland and a date almost lost it one night. We had dinner at one of Cleveland’s better delis and I ordered a combo sandwich of pastrami, chopped liver and tongue with Russian dressing. My mother used to make sweet and sour tongue. Romanian Kosher Sausage and several Skokie delis sell fresh and pickled tongue.

      Your name is familiar. Did you attend NHS? I graduated in ’68.


  4. John Kessler permalink
    February 26, 2013 11:36 am

    When growing up on the farm, tongue was considered “special” and thus only for the adults. They always made tongue sandwiches. My recall is that it was just boiled and then sliced. yuk! I was always glad it was “special”.

    I am sure will make something yummy. Maybe so “special” that Carolyn cannot have any.

  5. February 26, 2013 6:34 pm

    Tongue is delish, has a great texture. I usually just slow braise it with parsnips, carrots and some red wine – just like oxtail or heart. Though my grandmother supposedly made some type of salsa verde with it (though w/o tomatillos, no such thing exists in Austria). Just make sure you peel the tongue!

  6. February 26, 2013 10:04 pm

    Thanks all for reading and mostly commenting with encouraging remarks! Has me inspired to get cooking soon!

  7. The wife permalink
    February 27, 2013 7:36 am

    My first question to Grant after reading just the title of his blog on Monday, was “Did I already eat it?” I was sure he had already slipped it by me! 🙂

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