Over The Lips And Past The Gums


Several months ago when I purchased a quarter of a grass fed cow, a rather large and unwieldy package stamped simply with the word tongue found its way into my freezer.

And for months, I couldn’t fathom exactly what I should do with it.

I’d had tongue on several occasions in the past, including at The Black Hoof in the form of a thinly sliced sandwich (among other things), but I’d never felt the need to tackle this offal matter at home.

But then one day, I felt like making these, figuring that instead of the pork cheeks, I’d substitute in the tongue.  Not knowing too much about tongue, I assumed that the results would be similar since tongue is a rather fatty, gelatinous cut.

So, before I left for work one day, I tossed the requisite ingredients into my handy dandy slow cooker alongside the tongue, and went on my way.

Unfortunately, sometimes my ignorance of certain ingredients leads to some rather unpleasant situations.

Arriving home, nothing seemed amiss, and I was actually greeted with a pleasant, meaty aroma as I crossed the threshold.

Up Close

Once I got into the kitchen and fished the tongue out of the braising liquid though, I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right.  What had at first seemed like an intoxicatingly elemental scent jumped quickly into barnyard territory (and beyond) once I got the thing up close.  But, I bravely soldiered on, refusing to admit that I had no idea what I was doing.

The sensible course of action was to peel the massive tongue and shred the meat within, so I grabbed hold of the greasy, nubbly tongue with a turkey lifter and pulled.  As the membrane slid away, the intensely strong odor hit me square in the face.  At this point I felt something close to revulsion (I think it’s the idea of consuming an organ that’s so closely entwined with the act of eating but also still looks like a tongue that’s the problem).


I held on to my big girl panties and grabbed a meaty shred for a bite.  Yup, there was that revulsion I mentioned.  I couldn’t even manage to keep the tongue down and had to spit the remains into the sink.  The texture was greasy, yet stringy, and the smell coming off of it was like the stinkiest farm I’d ever had the misfortune of going to.  Not offal, just awful.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what on earth I’d done wrong.  So, (as I often do when things don’t turn out like I expected) I went to the internet in search of answers.  It didn’t take me long to ascertain that my first mistake was not soaking the tongue in clean water for several hours to remove any lingering blood or unwanted aromas.  Curses!

There was no way to salvage the damage I’d done, so after feeding a few nibbles to my curious cats, I disposed of the spent tongue and quickly took the contents of the bag out to our garbage bin.  In the brief time that the peeled tongue sat on the cutting board, the scent had managed to permeate throughout the entire house.

The moral of the story here?  Do a bit of research before you try to cook something strange and new.  Had I done so, I probably wouldn’t have had to throw out my only grass fed tongue.

Will I try to make it again?  Probably not.  I think I’ll leave the tongue hijinx to Grant.  He knows what he’s doing a little better than I do, anyway.

Until next time…

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2 Responses to “Over The Lips And Past The Gums”

  1. Ah, beef tongue is one of my loves since childhood. It was a special treat we would have once and a while. Do try again. We cook ours by boiling it. When it comes out right it is decidely delicious. We have a fancy restaurant who buys all of our pig tongues. He pickles and smokes them.

    Pig cheeks, or what we call jowl, we use in stews or slice up and fry like bacon. It has a little bit of a different texture but is tasty too.

  2. mochapj says:

    Oh yes, it is definitely something I will try again since I have had tongue made by others that I’ve quite enjoyed.

    As for the cheeks and jowls, I’ve already been won over by those and make guanciale (Aka face bacon) quite regularly. It’s divine!

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