Tongue, as a Cold Cut

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Let’s face it, they’re not pretty. They look like huge, well, tongues. So just don’t think about it being a tongue. Think of it as a culinary delicacy. Tongue is soft, tender, and lean, with a unique texture.

With very little work, you can turn this piece of cow into a fabulous “cold cut” for hors d’oeuvres. All you need to do is poach the tongue, just like you were poaching a chicken.

Not intended to offend anyone, but this is a tongue!

Beef Tongue

1 beef tongue, about 3 1/2 pounds, at room temperature
1 onion, quartered
3-4 stalks celery, quartered
10 baby carrots
1 leek, cleaned, quartered
1 bunch parsley
5 bay leaves
1 head of cloves, sliced horizontally
Handful of whole black pepper corns
2 teaspoons salt

Place all of the ingredients in a large pot. Add enough water to cover everything. Bring it all to a boil on the stove, then simmer, covered, for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours.

You could heat the broth ingredients first, and then add the tongue, but this way works well, and you do end up with a great meat plus a good broth. After cooking, remove the lid and let the mixture cool a bit, then remove the tongue and set on a plate to cool completely.

Remove the fatty chunk at the base of the tongue, but don’t discard it. Peel the tongue – especially the top part of it where you can see the taste buds. It doesn’t all work with the pinch and pull method; a paring knife comes in handy.

Slice the peeled tongue crosswise into 1/4 to 3/8″ slices. Tongue is good at room temperature, or cold. I love it with Dijon mustard and good bread.

The slices are wonderful as part of an charcuterie platter, along with cheeses, olives, and cornichons.

If you don’t want the tongue as a cold cut, sear the slices instead in hot skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper after turning. I sliced up that piece I cut off the tongue to make these non-uniform strips to sear.

I like to put these in flour tortillas and eat with onions and cilantro, and you can make a more involved filling like Rick Bayless’s creamy zucchini and corn. Or, serve the hot seared tongue with crispy potatoes and a couple over easy eggs.

Tongue is also good with pigs’ feet, but that’s another post!

Make sure to use this wonderful broth in another recipe! I added potatoes and leeks for a quicky soup!

Arancini

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Deep frying isn’t something I do routinely, but I’ve always wanted to make arancini, as well as deep-fried Spanish olives. Because of that, I purchased a small electric deep fryer many moons ago. I finally made arancini; the olives are next.

Arancini are savory Sicilian snacks, made from a little ball of risotto, sometimes filled with cheese, and deep fried.

One good thing about making arancini is that leftover risotto can be used, and in fact, is encouraged. But keep it a “plainer” risotto. Risotto with chunks of butternut squash obviously wouldn’t work well.

Classic risotto is perfect. I included some mushroom powder for a bit more flavor.

For the cheese, caciocavallo is recommended. There is a smoked variety of this cheese, but I used non-smoked. Mozzarella is a good substitute.

If used seen photos of traditional arancini, they typically have a smoother breadcrumb coating. Because I used a combination of panko and some fresh breadcrumbs, the coating looks a bit more lumpy. But it still worked!

For  the  Arancini:

1 recipe of risotto, made with about 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
2 beaten eggs
1 cup flour
2 cups breadcrumbs – I used a mixture of fresh bread crumbs and panko
Enough plain oil in which to deep fry the arancini

Start by making the risotto the previous day before serving. I added mushroom powder, some cream, and some Parmesan. Chill the risotto overnight.

To prepare the Arancini, cut up the cheese into small cubes. The size really depends on how big your arancini will be. I used a small cookie scoop, pushed in the cheese, then covered it with more risotto. With the cold risotto, it was easy to mold them into spheres.

Have the bowl with the eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs ready. Take the arancini and dip them in flour, then eggs, then the breadcrumbs. Place on a cookie sheet. When you’re done, place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator.

Set up your electric deep fryer and heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Fry about 3 at a time in the basket, and when sufficiently browned, place them on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet. Continue with the remaining arancini.

Serve still hot.

I served these with a truffle aioli.

But you could use a marinara for dipping as well, or a curry ketchup.

My arancini are a little large. I have trouble with fiddly little things, which is why I’m not a cake decorator. But, then you get to bite into a lot of melted cheese….

Roasted Okra

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Quite a few years ago, I was at a girlfriend’s beautiful loft for dinner, and for someone who doesn’t really love cooking, she had really put out an impressive spread of hors d’oeuvres.

Among those hors d’oeuvres were roasted okra. I was a bit hesitant at first. I’d only had okra in Creole dishes, and there is this dog slobber-type slime that I had previously associated with okra. But I’m glad I tried them!

Not only did I immediately become addicted to these roasted okra, I found out that they were made from frozen okra! Wow.

So I had to make them myself. They’re so easy, and only take a little bit of time for the thawing process. Other than that, all you’ll need is an oven.

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Roasted Okra

1 or 2 1-pound packages frozen whole okra
Olive oil
Salt or seasoning salt

Starting the day before, thaw the bag of frozen okra in the refrigerator overnight.

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The next morning, place the okra in a large colander. Give them a little rinse, then let them drain for at least 4 hours.

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Place the okra on paper towels and let them “dry” up. There should be no very little “wetness” left to them.

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Preheat the oven to a roast position, or to at least 400 degrees Farenheit. Place the okra in a large roasting pan or jelly roll pan, making sure there’s not too much overlap. Drizzle on olive oil, and season with salt or your favorite seasoning salt. I used a favorite spice blend that my girlfriend Gabriella brings me from Trader Joe’s.

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Roast the okra for about 20-25 minutes, tossing them once during the process. They should be roasted on all sides.

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Cook longer if there’s not sufficient browning. The roasting time depends on how full of water they are. Turn out the okra onto a serving platter.

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You might want to add a fun coarse salt to them as well, but taste them first to test the saltiness.

I made a little Sriracha mayo for dipping, but they’re wonderful just by themselves. Or there’s truffle aioli…

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Be careful. They seriously are addicting!

And not slimy.