Note to my readers: I received a Sous Vide Supreme water oven from the manufacturer in order to develop recipes. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.
Happy Halloween! This is my second favorite holiday (Thanksgiving, of course, having pride of place in my food-loving heart). Still, I love to see all the neighbor kiddos in their costumes — even if this year, I suspect they will need huge umbrellas! It is a wet and messy day — the sort of day that calls for comfort food.
What does comfort food look like for you?
Though I live in Portland these days, I grew up in Chicago.
The City of Big Shoulders, as my hometown is occasionally known, is simultaneously the most diverse and most separate place I have ever been. Some neighborhoods, like Hyde Park, are complex melting pots; in other areas of town, if it weren’t for the street signs, you might think yourself in Mexico or China.
Part of my childhood was spent in Logan Square. While it has become trendy in recent years, when we lived there, it was a more working-class area, largely populated with Hispanic families. It was there that I first tasted adobo, arroz con gandules, and my beloved mojo criollo. These flavors are emblazoned on my taste buds, and imprinted on my heart: when I want food that feels like home, these are the tastes I mean.
Before we go any further, let’s just put this out there: tongue is one of those foods that freaks people out. I cannot argue with that. I mean, look at this thing:
Despite its alien appearance, stay with me. If you are a meat eater, and you buy the Paleo concept, using the whole animal instinctively makes sense. Why on earth would we waste any part of something that was so hard to obtain? Even though in modern times, we are able to purchase meat from the store rather than hunting it down, the old saying “waste not, want not” is still apt.
It helps that tongue is one of the easiest odd bits to use. It’s simple to cook, is inexpensive and tastes just like other muscle meat. Cooked properly, it becomes fall-apart tender and meltingly delicious. When we have it for supper, even my youngest demands a big portion.
I usually make this in a slow cooker, but I recently acquired a water bath oven courtesy of Sous Vide Supreme. Oh, oh, oh. Y’all. I’ve mentioned my love for gadgets before, but this — this is a whole new world. The long, slow, low cooking of the sous vide method is fantastic for tougher cuts of meat like tongue. It also deeply infuses flavors into food like nothing else I’ve tried. Amazing is not too strong a word.
For the sauce, I use a blend of lemon and orange juices to approximate the taste of the sour oranges that are traditional in this dish. It is a fairly close match. Citrusy coriander boosts the flavor further, while smoked pepper, garlic and onion deepen the taste. Cooked in the sous vide, the onions and garlic also hold their shape instead of melting into the sauce as they do in the slow cooker. Quickly crisping the meat in a pan after its long bath adds a delightful texture to this dish.
Serve this on top of a massive salad, with a side of my Cinnamon Pepper Plantains. Try not to lick the plate…but I won’t tell if you do. What’s more comforting than that?
- 1 beef tongue, about 3-1/2 lbs.
- 1 medium onion, sliced into rings
- 12 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, ground
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked peppercorns, ground
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 orange, sliced into wedges
- Set the temperature on sous vide to 140 degrees.
- Wash and rinse the tongue, patting dry with a paper towel. Place into a large sous vide bag.
- Add lemon and orange juices, onions, garlic, coriander, peppercorns and salt. Vacuum seal the bag, making sure to use the moist setting.
- Place the bag into the oven; cook at 140 degrees for 24 to 48 hours.
- Remove the package from the sous vide. (At this point, the dish may be chilled or cooled for several days until ready to serve.)
- When ready to serve, pre-heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Open the sealed bag; set the tongue aside. Pour the onion-garlic sauce into a small bowl. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, remove the outer covering off of the tongue, then slice the tongue horizontally just past its widest point. Slice each section of the tongue vertically into pieces roughly 1/4" thick.
- Sear the meat in the cast iron skillet until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- When ready to serve, top slices of meat with the onion garlic sauce; add a wedge of orange to each plate.