Friday, July 23, 2010

Tongue with Mustard Horseradish Sauce (Page 461)

RECIPE #1186

  • Date: Friday, July 9, 2010 -- 8pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our New House!
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+

This recipe came off the list generated by the random number generator. I had put off making this recipe for so long not because I had never eaten tongue, nor because I thought it would be gross. Rather, it was because I have never prepared tongue myself, and the direction: "Peel off skin and trim any fat or gristle" was freaking me out. The idea of peeling the skin off a tongue was making me feel squeamish just thinking about it. That squeamishness was a theme throughout the preparation of this recipe.

I found a 4-pound beef tongue at my local grocer (yes, 4-pounds!). I started by rinsing it then putting it in a pot with cold water, onion, garlic, bay leaf, star anise, black peppercorns, and salt. I simmered the tongue for several hours. Then I removed the tongue from the cooking liquid and it looked like this:

Ugh. It looked just like... well... a tongue. And although you can't appreciate it in this picture it had little taste bud bumps all over it. Gross. Then came the part where I peeled off the skin, and trimmed the gristle. I would rate that task pretty high on my list of Kitchen Tasks That Made Me Feel Nauseated. Luckily at that point I got to take a break from dealing with the tongue to make the sauce. The sauce was an herbed mustard and horseradish sauce, thickened with a roux. When the sauce was ready I thinly sliced the tongue, topped it with some sauce, and served.

I really don't know how to rate this one. The problem is, if I went to a restaurant and had the plate pictured on top put in front of me, I might have happily eaten it without a second thought. But given the whole experience of making the dish, by the time I had that plate in front of me the last thing I wanted to do was put that in my mouth. I ate a few bites, but that was all I could manage. My special gentleman, who was slightly more removed from the tongue-preparation process, thought the tongue itself was pretty tasty but he didn't care for the sauce at all. He pointed out, and I think he was right, that tongue is really best in a sandwich or taco. My special gentleman made some tongue and egg sandwiches the next day with the leftovers and ate them with delight. The tongue seemed to be cooked pretty well in this preparation, but were I to make it again I would forgo the sauce and instead serve the tongue in a sandwich. Truth be told though, I probably won't be making tongue again. It might be a food that I only eat out.

The recipe is here.

I have this pattern that has repeated itself through the last decade or so of my life. I will decide to get in better shape and start exercising frequently. For 3 months, or 6, or 9, I will continue in my routine, feeling good and enjoying it. Then for some reason I will stop exercising for a week or two (reasons vary) and then I will find it nearly impossible to re-enter my routine. So I will give myself a break. What was intended as maybe a 3-week break turns into a 3 month break, or 6 month, or 9 month. At some point I will realize that I am feeling shitty, physically of course but also mentally. Often I will have lost a few pounds and a lot of energy from the lack of exercise. And I will just feel more down than usual. The feeling crappy kicks me back into shape and so starts another phase of exercising.

This past fall I was training for the marathon, so I was getting more than my fair share of exercise. The marathon was in early November and in the weeks following it I felt not-at-all guilty about not working out. I let my, "I don't need to exercise, I just ran a marathon," excuse carry me all the way from November through March or so. At that point I realized I needed to get off my butt. I couldn't motivate to run but I started walking five miles a day. I have continued that for the last few months, and although I think it is valuable, it isn't the type of drenched-in-sweat exercise that I am used to. And, I have discovered, a five mile walk doesn't come with the same mental health benefits that a five mile run does. In the last few weeks I started feeling down. It's true that a few things happened that triggered my sadness, but nothing that shouldn't have been outweighed by the joys of moving into our new house, starting my new job, and living with my special gentleman! And then it occurred to me: what I really needed was some real exercise.

For the last 5 days in a row I have started the day with a run. And even though I have only been running about 4 miles a day, it has done wonders. I just feel so much better, physically and mentally, than I have been. And so, I am recommitting myself to running. I don't see another marathon in my near future, or even another half, but I do see very regular running. It just makes me feel better.


AsianFan said...

I can't help laughing while reading how you felt when preparing the tongue. It reminds me the first time I prepared the pig tongue. I was holding the phone between my head and shoulder and trying to find the skin my mum was instructing on the other end (international call!)Personally I don't have issue to deal with it. The beef tongue might be too bold for a first time trier. I really wish you started with a milder one to avoid the squeamish.

Anonymous said...

Gross. Me. Out.

You, my dear, have a far stronger stomach than I. There are many reasons why I couldn't tackle what you are doing in this blog, and skinning a tongue is certainly one of them.


Teena said...

Yeah, perhaps a pig tongue would have been the way to start! The beef tongue was definitely a little overwhelming.