Let's face it, anyone with any sense knows cows are far more agreeable when they're in pieces, and while throwing prime bovine bits on the barbecue is one the discerning gourmet's preferred methods of serving Miss Daisy, there are parts which, for whatever reason, have fallen from favour among Brit carnivores.
We can't speak for our US cousins, but cow tongue is pretty well off the menu these days in Blighty. This is a great shame, because it's cheap and extremely lip-smacking, and ideal for deployment after a raucous night painting the town red.
We've previously used tongue to make souse - the gelatinous Pennsylvania Dutch delight known over The Pond as pon haus.
This proved a culinary experience too far for some of our fans, and indeed the Spanish locals who were obliged to get their laughing gear round it, so we've decided to revisit tongue in a more user-friendly manner.
Consider then, if you will, the Spanish "lengua" - simply boiled tongue in a vegetable-enriched gravy. The ingredient list is basic...
- A good whack of red wine
- One tongue
- 500ml tomato purée
- A couple of chopped onions
- Garlic cloves
- 2-3 chopped carrots
Seasoning with salt and pepper is to taste, and you'll also need some olive oil to fry the tongue. Here's our traditional cut-out-and-keep guide:
Add the salt and pepper at the boiling stage, and more to the sauce, if required. If you like leeks, they can be thrown into the mix. Local experts each have their own variation on the recipe, with some voting for white wine over red, but it's just a matter of taste.
We have to admit we'd have done well to pay a bit more attention to the grannies who offered their advice, because we rather negligently forgot to skin the tongue after boiling, as you can see above. We'd recommend adding this step.
It's important to let the tongue cool completely. If you try to slice it when it's still hot, it'll disintegrate. In any case, leaving it overnight adds to the flavour.
It's this requirement which makes the dish ideal for preparation after you stagger home from the boozer. Assuming you've made the sauce and stuck that in the fridge, you just have to unite it with the tongue and reheat. A microwave works fine.
The result is a piping hot platter of silky smooth tongue. It's extremely popular in local bars hereabouts in pincho form (a small plate, aka a tapa) as an accompaniment to the taking of beer. Enough said.
So, we'll leave you to it. We've got a provocative list of recipes for future post-pub neckfillers, but if you have a personal fave, please do let us know and we'll see what we can do. ®
Thanks very much to my mate Teresa Mateos for the use of her marvellous traditional wood-burning stove for the tongue reheat. Yes, she knows, those tiles have got to go...