Thursday, July 23, 2009

Slip me some tongue

Yes, that's right, I like the attention grabbing titles.

Today we're gonna talk a little bit about offal. Tongue exactly. First off, what is offal? Offal are the left over bits. Tongue, heart, sweetbreads, liver, tripe, etc. Today, I'd like to consider the tongue. If you're grossed out by the thought of eating tongue, you can do one of two things. 1) continue reading and hopefully, I'll change your opinion or 2) go ahead and make yourself a reservation at Old Country Buffet and be happy with your flavorless, uninteresting life. If you're lucky maybe they'll have the 'steak' buffet open. Yippee!!!!

Well, if you're still reading that means you chose option 1. Wise choice, grasshopper. We use two different types of tongue at the restaurant. The first is the tongue from our Highland beef and the second is the tongue of the Wagyu beef which is the breed used to produce Kobe beef. If you've never had tongue before or your only memory of it is the whole pickled beast staring back at you in the butcher shop then you're in for a pleasant surprise. In our current preparation of tongue, we peel the outer skin, smoke it for about 40 minutes and then cook it at 70 degrees C for 24 hours. This process gives us a tongue that is meltingly tender, has a slight bit of smoke and is 100% packed with beef flavor. The inspiration for this dish is a local favorite, the pit beef sandwich. I've eaten a ton of pit beef in my life and always thought it would be cool to be able to put it on the menu. Well, here's the dish. It consists of a grilled baguette, caramelized onions, smoked tongue and a horseradish cream. You can check out the cooking and plating in this video.

We need to have a little chat about flavor. I'll preface this chat by saying if you're someone who likes their 'filet mignon' well done and then you cover it with ketchup, I'm not gonna change your mind. I'm cool with that. I'm talking to the people want flavor out of their food and don't just cover it with condiments. Ten times out of ten the muscles of an animal that work the hardest have the most flavor. They are also the toughest. My favorite cuts of beef(tongue, cheek, hanger steak, skirt steak) are full of flavor, but they also require you to CHEW. It's my job as a chef to present these cuts of meat in a way that allows you, the diner to enjoy them for what they are. If, along the way, I can enter in some cooking techinques that up the ante, then so be it. However, if your response to eating a well marbled strip steak is that 'it's a little chewy'. Well, I can't help you. Yes, it does chew a little more than a beef tenderloin, but it also has MUCH more flavor. Aren't we concerned with flavor when we're eating? If the 'chew' of a meat is your greatest concern than you should just stock up on Jello- pudding packs and call it a day. That's cool; then there's more flavorful cuts of meat for me!

The moral of the story here is that we need to break away from the shackles of beef tenderloin, America. It's an issue everywhere. I recently did a cooking class in suburban Philadelphia where I wanted to present tongue and heart in a dish that was a pretty cool riff on a cheesesteak. I figured, 'Ok, it's suburban Philly these folks are food savvy and will 'get it'. NOPE. I was asked by the restaurant running the class to substitute the tongue and heart for something 'a little more mainstream'. I responded by saying that in little old Hanover, folks were buying this dish up and really enjoying it. They still made me change it. What a bunch of rubes. Guess in a round about way, that makes Hanover way more food savvy that suburban Philly! FYI to all Philly area folks.....WE SERVE FLAVORFUL TONGUE AND HEART IN HANOVER, PA....MAKE THE TRIP TWO HOURS WEST. WE HAVE ROOMS SO YOU CAN STAY OVERNIGHT!!!!

Take a step out of your comfort zone, America. Go to a restaurant you admire and try something different. You'll be amazed at all the wonderful foods that are out there and I'm certain you'll even find some new favorites! Like tongue. :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Grew up with pickled tongue and would NEVER eat tongue again. Would rather chew grass in the yard. However, I've eaten the tongue you have served, and I'm now in love! People need to get over their age-old attitudes, and the Sheppard Mansion is the place to do it! And that's not "tongue-in cheek."