Monday, July 23, 2018

Beef tongues: Gift from our friend 牛タン、友人からのプレゼント

One of our friends who has a farm in the area and raises cattle, chickens and other livestock gave us two fresh grass-fed beef tongues. The cattle were never stressed in the process and the tongues were promptly vacuum packed and frozen before we received them. I was concerned that we may be depriving her of a delicacy but she assured me that the tongues otherwise would have been discarded. Since she read our blog about beef tongue, however, she decided to send them to us. She told me that the smaller one was from a 3/4 Dexter* and 1/4 Angus and the larger one from a half Dexter and Angus. We decided to cook up the small one the morning we received them. I prepared it exactly as before. After it was boiled, we tasted the slices and made a beef tongue stew and later we made tongue sandwiches.

The stew was made from the middle and back portions of the tongue.

We made sandwiches from the remaining tip portion with pumpernickel bread. I served this as a lunch with green salad consisting of our home grown arugula, blanched broccoli, sugar snap, skinned and sliced  Campari tomato, feta cheese. Dressing is my usual honey mustard with rice vinegar and olive oil.

As before, I simply toasted the bread with one side smeared with mayo and the other whole grain Dijon mustard.

This is a cut surface of the tip portion of tongue. I think it is leaner than the store-bought.

I sliced rather thinly to make this sandwich.

This was an extremely (meaning only) rare occasion on which we had access to fresh tongue from totally organic and grass-fed happy cattle. When I started preparing the tongue, the first thing I noticed was that the slightly unpleasant gamey smell usually associated with store-bought tongue was (thankfully) absent.  Also, another sign of the freshness of the meat was that I had some difficulty removing the skin after boiling. Generally it is very easy to remove the skin from a store-bought tongue.

While we mentioned in previous blogs how good the store-bought tongues were, we had no idea how really good beef tongue could be until we tasted this. The difference between store-bought and this was amazing; This made clear what beef is really all about. In both the stew and sandwiches, especially the sandwiches, the flavor was a bright, fresh, strong (in a very pleasant way) clean taste of beefiness. (While it may sound like the flowery language used to describe wine I don't know how else to describe it.) I would say compared to this, the taste of even steak is cloudy. In both dishes, the meat maintained its integrity but it was so tender it seemed to melt in your mouth. Especially with the simple tongue sandwich, the difference between the store-bought and the one gifted to us became much more prominent. My wife was ecstatic. She said, while the store-bought was good, this one really tasted exactly like the one she remembered and transported her back to her childhood in rural Pennsylvania. This has become a new flavor benchmark for us. Many, many thanks to our friend for this wonderful gift. We really enjoyed it and will savor it while looking forward to eating the second one.

* Dexter: I had never heard of Dexter cattle before my friend mentioned it. It is an Irish origin breed described as friendly and the smallest in Europe. It is versitile serving triple-pourposes; milk, beef and drafting.

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