Larger tongues can take much longer to cook, so choose the smallest tongue you can find, ideally below 3 pounds / 1.4 kg. Tongue has a short shelf life, so purchase it very fresh or frozen from a reliable butcher. (If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator for maximum safety.)
Some tongues include the glands, bones, and fat at the root of the tongue. This area is edible when cooked, but not everyone likes the soft, fatty texture. You may cut it off at home (before or after cooking), or look for a pre-trimmed “Swiss cut” tongue.
Brined tongue packs extra flavour and can be prepared the same way as fresh tongue.
Place the tongue in a clean sink and scrub thoroughly under cold running water. Clean until the surface is free of dirt and blood.
Many recipes recommend soaking the tongue in cold water for an hour or two, changing the water whenever it becomes murky. Store-bought tongue is usually clean enough to skip this step, but it can freshen up the tongue’s flavour.
Fill a large pot with water, add the tongue and boil for 10 minutes. Discard the water, rinse the tongue under cold water and clean the pot thoroughly.
Fill the pot again with moderately salted water. Add vegetables and herbs of your choice. Add bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Use a pressure cooker or slow cooker to speed up the process.
Add the tongue to the broth and cover the pot. Bring to a boil again, then reduce to a simmer.
Keep the tongue completely submerged. You may need to add more water or weigh it down with a steamer basket.
Simmer until tender. The tongue is ready when it turns white and a knife easily pierces the thickest part. This typically takes about 50–60 minutes per pound (0.45 kg) of meat.
Fast cooking or undercooking makes the tongue tough and unpleasant. If you’ve got the time, err on the side of caution and keep simmering for an extra hour or two.
If using a pressure cooker, heat until it starts to steam. Reduce to medium heat and cook for 10–15 minutes per pound (0.45 kg). Let cool until steam releases on its own.
Peel the tongue while warm. Transfer the tongue onto a plate with a pair of tongs. Wait until the tongue is just cool enough to touch, then cut through the outer white layer lengthwise with a sharp knife. Peel off this layer with your fingers, cutting when necessary. (This layer is technically edible, but has an unpleasant taste and texture.
The tongue becomes much harder to peel once cooled. If it’s already cooled to room temperature, though, it can help to submerge it in ice water.
Save the broth to make a soup or flavour sauces.
Cut the meat into thin slices. Serve with roast potatoes, and vegetables.
Store leftovers in the fridge. Boiled tongue will keep for about five days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Mustard sauce:
- 500 ml cream
- 30 ml wholegrain mustard
- 20 ml honey
- Salt to taste
- 3 tsp mustard powder
- 1 heaped tsp maizena (mix with little water to make a paste)
Bring the cream, wholegrain mustard, mustard powder and honey to a boil, add the maizena paste and boil until required thickness. Season with salt and serve with the tongue slices.
Recipe posted by Elize de Kock
Photo: Elize de Kock