Friday, July 23, 2010

Lengua Tacos

Well, ok, not actually tacos, but the best taco filling from the taco bus that we so love and cherish. We've asked if they would just sell us the filling in a dish so we can still eat in the fabulous bus lot from time to time, but they wouldn't, so I set about figuring out how t make our own tongue recipe.

I never tried cooking tongue before now, it was pretty daunting to be honest since I didn't grow up eating it and had no idea what it was supposed to be like other than the taco bus stuff. (plus it looks pretty gnarly just sitting there at the store...) So I got a general idea from various internet searches describing tradition lengua recipes from Mexico and went from there. Most recipes suggest a crockpot but I prefer my enameled cast iron dutch oven and just threw in a chopped bell pepper, onion, garlic, cilantro, salt & pepper. Then set the whole raw tongue in with all of that and cover with water. Put it on the stove over high heat and get the water simmering, put lid on and let it sit over low-med heat to continue simmering while the oven preheats to 275 degrees.

When the oven is preheated put the pot in and leave it there for a few hours. After braising for some time the scent of cilantro and onions should force you to peek in at the concoction. If this is the first time you have tried this you may pull a horrified face at the oily greenish stew with an entire (enormous) tongue sitting in the middle of it, but fear not! Take the pot out of the oven and let it cool. (turn off the oven at this point as well...) When the tongue is cool, put it on a cutting board and brandish your favorite paring knife. Peel the rough outer layer of skin, and remove as much of the fairly icky fatty gristle bits from the base of the tongue as you wish. (I scrapped it all, the dogs had a feast.) Slice the pristine tender muscle meat that is left into several strips lengthwise, and then dice it by cutting the strips into bits.

Mix the diced tongue with some chopped sweet onion, cilantro, and the juice of a lime. (You could cut the lime into quarters and toss that in as well) Add enough stock or bone broth to make the whole thing fairly moist but not watery.  I had some good chicken stock that had been boiled down earlier in the day to almost a syrup, but whatever stock you have would be ok here, the other seasoning will take precedence. Taste to see if you need more salt or pepper, adjust if necessary, and voila!

James and the kids did eat this with corn tortillas, but I love it just as a cold salad in a dish. If you want to serve it hot just heat the meat and stock together before adding the cilantro, lime and onion.

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