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A typical foot-long beef tongue weighs about three pounds before it’s cooked and broken down into dishes like tacos de lengua. And while Emily Kraszyk of Farmhouse Tavern had eaten beef tongue in tacos before Table Fifty-Two‘s Rey Villalobos challenged her to create a dish with it, she’d never gotten up close and personal with the organ.

As it turns out, beef tongue has to be peeled after the meat has been braised. “There’s the outside skin that you have to peel back once it’s cooked, and it’s filled with taste buds,” Kraszyk says. “That was an interesting process. It actually peeled very easily—it all came off in one piece, and by the end of it, it looked like shoe leather.”

Kraszyk says that the tongue smelled “a little funky” while she was braising it, but after she peeled it, “I realized the funkiness and the weirdness comes mostly from the skin.” She considered saving the skin to turn into a knife case, but ended up discarding it instead.

In total, Kraszyk presented the beef tongue four different ways. She stewed some of the braised meat with arbol chiles, Tropea onion, and the braising liquid, and served it with toast brushed with fat she’d reserved from the braising process. She also pickled some small pieces of the braised tongue; fried tongue was the final touch (Kraszyk shaved thin slices off the braised tongue and dehydrated them before deep-frying). To balance out the meaty richness, she also added fresh components like shaved radish and foraged greens, dressed with pickling liquid, salt, lime juice, olive oil, and white soy—which Kraszyk says “adds a great umami quality and depth of flavor.”

The finished dish, Kraszyk says, has a “really good, pleasant flavor of the beef. It’s not overpowering whatsoever.”


Who’s next:
Kraszyk has challenged Kristine Antonian, pastry chef at the recently revived Cherry Circle Room, to create a dish with matcha tea—which she herself has tasted only once, years ago.

Beef tongue salad

Brine one or more large beef tongues overnight, then braise for nine hours at 180 degrees.

1 gallon water
8 oz salt
8 oz sugar
3 grams pink salt

Braising liquid
3 carrots
3 ribs celery
1 large onion
2 Tropea onions
3 garlic cloves
7 arbol chiles, toasted
2 ancho chiles, toasted
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
2 allspice berries
7 sprigs thyme
Water to cover

Reserve the fat from the braising liquid along with some of the liquid, and once the tongues have cooled, peel the skin off the outside.

Stewed tongue
3 oz cooked tongue, cut into half-inch cubes
3 oz reduced braising liquid
5 arbol chiles
1 Tropea onion
1 oz butter
Juice of one lime
Salt to taste
Toast chiles in a skillet, then add the tongue cubes, braising liquid, and onion. Cook for several minutes, then finish with butter and lime.

Pickled tongue
Small pieces of braised beef tongue
8 oz white wine vinegar
2 oz salt
3 oz sugar
1 arbol chile
1 star anise
1 t mustard seeds
1 t black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 allspice berries
3 garlic cloves
3 sprigs thyme

Combine all ingredients and let sit for several hours. Remove tongue from brine.

Toasted baguette
Baguette, sliced thin
Reserved beef fat
Melt butter and beef fat together in a one to one ration. Brush onto baguette slices, then toast.

Fried tongue
After braised tongue has cooled, slice into long, thin strips. Fry in oil, season with salt, then place in dehydrator for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

Other components:
Fresh herbs and greens
Shaved radish
Olive oil
White soy
Lime juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss herbs, greens, and radish with the olive oil, white soy, and lime juice. Place on a plate with the stewed beef tongue, and top with the fried tongue, toasted baguette slices, and pickled tongue.