Beef Tongue with Cajun Gravy

Approximately one week ago I crawled into a hole, sad and alone. I vowed never to come out. I’d missed my flight to the Ancestral Health Symposium – and from that, one can’t recover. (Scroll to the end for **details. Because I know how much you care.)

Buuuut since the whole point of constantly running my mouth is to assault the ears of everyone around me (and the eyes of all those unfortunate folks who stumble upon my corner of the internet), I had to come out sometime. It’s virtually impossible to spew pseudo-science and give tips on how to be a horrible cook from a hole in the ground. So here I am. And I’m back with a vengeance.

Let me first tell you how difficult it was for me to title this post appropriately. So many Michael Scott-isms came to mind. So many juvenile jokes. Do you know how many screwball comedians would’ve had a field day with a post on Tongue?

Jokes aside, I ask you: What does this look like to you?

Shredded beef? Carnitas? Pork shoulder? No, my friend. This is tongue.

I’m reminded of the days I used to listen to read Ramona Quimby books on tape. In one chapter, Ramona and Beezus were duped into eating tongue. After a few bites of gristle, they refused to eat any more. They succeeded in turning me against tongue. (Ugh – so many suppressed jokes. So. Many.) But Ramona and Beezus were wrong. Tongue is delicious. It’s tender, savory, and easy. Beverly Cleary, you owe me a major apology.

Obviously, tongue doesn’t start out looking like a pile of savory shredded goodness. It starts out like this (reader, be warned. It looks like tongue):

Unfortunately, even my raw-foodie dog was a little skeeved out by the tongue. He went into hiding.

What I love about whole cuts, organ meats and tongue is that they actually look like what they are. Modern supermarkets lay out beautiful, boneless cuts of meat that look about eight stages removed from where they actually came from. If we’re eating it, we should be able to stomach – and appreciate – the fact that it came from an actual animal. An animal with a tongue, a brain, sentience, and – hopefully – one that lived a good life.

That’s not to say that I didn’t go to great lengths to ensure this tongue wasn’t infused with flavor. Bill and Hayley recommended I try the crock pot, and I will never cook tongue in any other way. 10 hours on Low and this little licker was as tender and delicious as it could be. I served it with cajun gravy, but it would be great with taco spices, or even just a shake of cumin.

Sick of my rambling? Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

For the Beef Tongue:
One beef tongue from a pastured cow (mine was obtained through Philly CowShare)
One yellow onion, cut into strings
Several cloves of garlic
One portion of Oxtail (for added flavor)
Splash of broth
2 Tbs. home-rendered lard or other cooking fat

Sautee the onions briefly in the cooking fat. Place the oxtail, garlic, onions and a splash of broth in the crock pot or slow cooker. I like to place the tongue on top of the oxtail, then top with the onion & garlic. Cook for 10 hours on Low.

When you remove the tongue from the crock pot, you’ll need to remove the outer layer. It peels off easily (see below). Once removed, the meat is easy to shred.

For the Cajun Gravy:
2 Tbs. home-rendered lard or other cooking fat
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
6 chopped tomatoes with juice or one 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
Cajun spices to taste: Paprika, white pepper, cayenne pepper.

Cook the carrot and the onion, green pepper, & celery (the Cajun “holy trinity”) in cooking fat until soft. Add tomatoes, green onion, parsley and cajun spices. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, then, if desired, use a hand blender to puree the gravy.

Serve on top of shredded tongue with a side of green beans. Enjoy!

**Appendix A: Travel Woes

Last week I became embroiled in some serious airport drama on the way to the AHS. I was supposed to spend the weekend learning – and more importantly, hangin’ out – with my favorite people in Paleo: Bill and Hayley, Nom Nom, FitBomb, and more. But I missed my 6AM flight to Los Angeles (I blame security, but deep down I think it was probably my fault); got bumped from 2 standby flights and had another flight delayed such that I’d miss the connecting flight.

Then I was told that since my initial flight was bought with points, I actually wasn’t allowed to fly standby, so I’d have to pay the difference in that day’s flight prices by purchasing a crap-ton of miles. HOWEVER, I could scrap the whole trip and receive a full refund on the miles I used to purchase the trip in the first place. (Yeah. Didn’t line up to me either.) By that point I was tired, cranky, and wanted to go home. So I did.

I missed the symposium, and that’s why. Stinks, but I’m thankful for the time I had to ponder the concept of Gratitude

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16 Comments to “Beef Tongue with Cajun Gravy”

  1. That actually looks good- looks like the brisket I made last night…how are you my dear? I miss you….hope all is well…..so we got a trader joe’s and I love it!

  2. wow that is so awesome you tried that!!

  3. Uh, and the health benefits would be . . . ? I need details before I jump on board with the tongue thing! 🙂 Looks good once you shred it up though.

    • Haha, I have to say this one – and wow, I never thought I’d say this – this one’s worth eating for the flavor, just like pulled pork, beef, or bacon! I have to “hide” other “offal” cuts like liver in things like chili and meatballs because liver, despite being incredibly nutritious, tastes disgusting to me. But the tongue is just really, really delicious! It’s so tender because it’s a very high-fat cut.

  4. Nice. The raw tongue looks like a skinned dead animal.

  5. Really glad I saw the pic of the tongue before taking mine out of the freezer or it might have freaked me out a little ( not sure what I was expecting it to look like, but at least now I’m prepared!) Looking forward to trying the recipe. Sucks about the flight.

  6. “…and this little licker was as tender and delicious as it could be…”

    That’s what she said!

    It looks like pulled pork! Great pics and it looks delish!

  7. That raw tongue has a mouth

  8. wow. all i can say is wow. i can’t get beyond the second picture. wow.

  9. my grandpa used to cook all sorts of off-beat animal cuts. i would go to the local butcher (an almost extinct species around here now) when i was a kid and watch him pick out things like tongue — even a whole lamb head! while i was used to that kind of meat being cooked, i never got over tongue. i’d sit there and stare at it with a look of equal parts fascination and disgust on my face. perhaps your crock pot recipe will help me get over this…even though i can feel that familiar look creeping over my face right now! 🙂

  10. I’ve been staring at the tongue in my freezer for too long. This recipe appeared just in time. Thanks Liz!

    (Justin, not Alycia here)

  11. These pictures scared me off from ever trying tongue. I was so thankful when you said it’s not for nutrition mostly.

    • Sorry about that, Linda! I know that these photos can be off-putting at times, but the reality is – our food looks like actual animal parts before we make it into pretty plates 😉 I can’t help but think we should recognize that fact, and even get comfortable with it! As much as I dislike looking at it when it’s so obviously … well … tongue.

  12. So you peel the skin/taste buds off after it cooks?? That sounds a lot easier than I imagined. I had visions of me having to peel a raw tongue, and that terrified me out of trying it. I will be adding this to my next order from US Wellness Meats…thanks for being brave!! 🙂

    • I had read something on the internet about how any flavors that you try to “infuse” into the cut wouldn’t work with that skin on, so I actually worked to slice some of it off initially – just a bit. But I gave up – it just doesn’t seem worth it – and luckily I found that it was just as good when you wait until it’s done to remove that outer membrane, “flavor infusion” notwithstanding. If you make this, take a pic and upload it to my Cave Girl Eats facebook page! I would LOVE to see!

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