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Ever cooked tongue or other 'offal' items?

I just bought a 1/2 a cow from a farmer and he asked if I wanted the organs. I said yes, more to give to my dogs. Now that I received them, I am curious about cooking them for myself. We got liver, tongue, heart and kidneys. My grandmother used to make a really nice steak and kidney pie, so I will probably do that. The liver should be easy to do.

However what about tongue and heart? Anyone have experience? is it worth trying?? or is it for the dogs??

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  1. Not at all for the dogs. Cook them separately or at the same time and combine them for the meal. Just be sure the slice them very thin for serving.

    1. An easy way to cook the tongue is to simply simmer it with a whole box of pickling spices. It takes a long time and is done when a knife will insert easily. Let it cool and peel (this is the grosses part) the skin off. Trim the fat and slice for tongue sandwiches. Delicious. Be sure the kitchen is well ventilated; the spicy smell can get to you. My mom used to cook tongue all the time. My wife cooked it only once - about 7 months pregnant in a tiny college apartment in the winter. That was 48 years ago and I haven't been served tongue since!

      1 Reply
      1. re: SonyBob

        Tongue is pretty good- my mom used to make it the same way that SonyBob's mom did, and I liked it quite well. I keep seeing it in carnicerias and considering making some, but so far I haven't.

      2. Love tongue. I basically boil the tongue til tender, put a knife through. Then peel it, taking out the inner part of the tongue, you see it. It is easier to peel while it's hot. Then I slice it put it on a bed of sliced onions, sliced garlic, pour a packet of onion soup and then add some water about 1/4- 1/2 up tongue, cover and roast at 325 for about 2 hours. I like it brown so I uncover and let it cook a little longer. You might have to add a little water. I freeze it and warm it up or we just eat that day. Delicious and very tender. I have had it just boiled and it doesn't have much flavor.

        4 Replies
        1. re: paprkutr

          thanks all for the tongue recipes. I may be getting more convinced. one question, the tongue package that we received was quite large, I did not recognize it as tongue at first (not labeled either, we had to play 'name that cow organ!'). finally I saw the telltale tastebuds. do I cook this whole big mass of a thing? or would there be something else attached to it that I remove? from my long past anatomy classes I do recall the tongue being much longer and bigger than just the part that we taste with.

          1. re: cleopatra999

            How big is it? Ususally the one I cook are about 3 pounds. There is the actual tongue part, and then there is a part attached that is sort of square. I don't know how to describe it. If in question, why not call the guy you got it from and ask him.

            1. re: cleopatra999

              I often cut a large cow tongue into 3 pieces so they fit the pot better
              - the 'tip' with skin all around
              - the base, cut into 2 lengthwise. The upper part (with thickest skin) has similar texture to the tip. The lower part is fattier, and seems to contain saliva glands.

              Once cooked tender, and skinned, it can be kept in the fridge, and used in a number of ways. Sliced thin crosswise, tongue can be warmed in any number of sauces, especially 'piquant' ones. Cumberland sauce (using blueberries instead of currants) was the last one I used.

              1. re: paulj

                could the cooked portions be frozen for use later without degradation in texture or quality?

          2. Love tongue, much as paprkutr said. Boil it and slice it, or dice it, like he said, then I cook it up in a sauce of brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, ketchup - a basic sweet(ish) sauce. Some people throw in pineapple chunks. The tongue gets softer as it cooks. Serve it with some sort of carb, like over rice or pastry shells.

            1. Mustard and cold tongue slices sandwiches. yum!

              You can boil and simmer the tongue, then peel off the shell (slips off) once it's cooled, refrigerate and cut thinly for sandwiches.

              1. Grilled cow hearts are delicious, kind of crunchy with an intense beef flavor. You can treat it as you would any other meat for grilling. Cut into large chunks or thick slices, marinade if necessary, and put over a hot grill. I haven't done this in awhile so you might want to look up some cooking times, but I've just put it on a hot pan until both sides are charred like a steak.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Pei

                  True, good stuff. I used to buy it on a daily basis (mainly for a baby falcon I was caring for) but I've even a lot when I was younger. It's amazing how butchers seemed quite happy that I took it off their hands.

                2. Tacos de lengue can be delish. Wish I had a good recipe!

                  1. A friend of mine says he does not eat tongue because he does eat anything that can taste you back :-)

                    1. I hesitate to deprive your dogs of some tasty treats, but the tongue can be braised, with or without prior pickling (like corned beef), and heart, as others have noted, is excellent grilled (hot and fast). I like to marinade slices of heart (after trimming off most of the connective tissue) in the sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo, then grill over hot coals or under the broiler.

                      1. I cook tongue in the crock pot with some red wine and Italian seasoning. I usually put it on low and leave it all day.

                        I think my mom did the same with beef heart, but I'm not sure.

                        1. Lamb tongue are also great. Much smaller, and typically you buy them by the package.

                          1. Beef tongue is a phenomenal meat. After a long braise it goes particularly well with sweet flavors (like sauce polonaise or estofado) or spice. Thinly sliced and grilled with nothing but salt and sesame oil, it is heaven. I've even served it with a mushroom sauce, though it might still be early in the season for something so hearty.

                            Beef heart I've had limited experience with, mainly grilled and curried. The flavor can be strong with a rather firm texture.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: JungMann

                              The following email came from my Auntie to me a few nights ago.
                              I love getting old family recipes!
                              I couldn't think of anyone who'd appreciate it, until I thought of Chow Hound!
                              So for any "Tongue Lovers"
                              Here is one form the old family recipe file! Hilary D

                              I Hil, I just had two thin slices of pickled tongue with salt and freshly ground pepper and I thought, who would enjoy this with me. Well my sister, but I can't e-mail her cuz she doesn't do that and YES, my niece. I finally found a recipe on line which was very much like Mom's and Mamma Heric's. You don't need a veal tongue for this a regular cow tongue works just great. Cover the tongue with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt for each quart of water. Cover tightly and cook slowly until tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When the tongue is tender, remove the skin by plunging the tongue in cold water, and cut away the roots. Keep enough broth to almost cover the tongue and add 3 cups of vinegar (I use regular distilled white), 3/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup. 1/2tsp whole cloves, 2 tsp allspice, 1 bay leaf, 1 stick cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground pepper. I actually used 2 Tab pickling spices, and 3 bay leaves. I didn't have a fresh cinammon stick. Simmer covered for 1 hour. Put in a plastic container and put in the fridge for a day or two. To eat, slice on the diagonal and fee the very tip to the dog as it is actually kind of creepy. Serve on a nice cracker or crostini with salt and pepper. FABULOUS. Love French Aunt Linnie *** Don't let it sit in the cold water as the skin starts to pull away and then kind of reconnects. Plunge, watch it begin to pull away and use your fingers and a small paring knife to peel it off. Love you.

                              1. re: mizhil

                                Love it! Thanks for sharing- the bits of commentary like the "creepy tongue tip" are priceless!

                                1. re: 4Snisl

                                  Now I just have to get the guts up to make it!

                            2. basque pickled tongue: simmer with aromatic vegies and a bay leaf or two until tender. let cool an hour and skin. slice 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. put it in a bag with red wine vinegar, crushed garlic, olive oil, and maybe parsley or chives and marinate overnight. Very yummy.

                              1. You probably should have got the cheeks, too. They are fatty, but very flavorful in a braise.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: warrengwonka

                                  oh, yes, the cheeks make the most amazing braise -- fantastic flavor, and they make a velvety sauce that you just can't duplicate with any other cut.

                                  I make them all the time in the winter, at the enthusiastic request of my kid! (and my mom -- go figure)

                                2. My family prepared beef heart breaded - much like schnitzel - excellent!!

                                  1. This is deep into territory I avoid, but I don't think a tongue qualifies as offal- my understanding is that offal is internal organs, while a tongue is a muscle.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: oldunc

                                      This is true.
                                      It always struck me as odd that folks have such a strange reaction to tongue or heart for that matter.
                                      They are both have great meaty flavor and texture.

                                      1. re: oldunc

                                        But so are heart and uterus- and gizzards too, I think.

                                        1. re: oldunc

                                          offal is anything *other* than muscle tissue from the body -- tongue, brains, sweetbreads, cheeks, feet, liver, kidneys, tripe, heart, testicles...and probably a few I'm just not thinking of at the moment.

                                          tongue and heart are muscles, yes, but their primary function is not for moving the animal, as is the rest of the stuff classified as meat.

                                        2. the French slice and then braise the heart with vegetables, like beef stew (or cheeks, as I mention upthread)

                                          1. My parents are from Goa, and one of the traditional dishes there is something called "Sorpatel", which is made primarily from offal. I'm attaching a link to a recipe. When my sister makes it she also uses beef heart.

                                            Unfortunately, like most things Goan (vindaloo, etc.), most people make it blindingly spicy hot, which I can't digest. I find it very tasty when it's made so that it's tolerable to me.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: souschef

                                              Sorpatel is usually made with pork, pork liver, kidney, tongue and sometimes thickened with pork blood. Oh do not forget the Toddy raised Sanas!

                                              1. re: chefj

                                                I only remember pullao with sorpatel. I don't remember sanas, but then I have been away from that environment so long that I don't even remember what sanas are !

                                                1. re: souschef

                                                  Sanas are Toddy fermented Rice cakes made with Coconut Milk that are much like Idili.

                                                  1. re: chefj

                                                    So chefj, are you Goan as well? It's unusual to come across someone who is familiar with Goan food.

                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                      No I am not Goan but I have spent some sometime there studying the cooking.

                                            2. To answer the original question, "No, never."

                                              I didn't claw my way to the top of the foodchain just to fight the buzzards for the leftovers.

                                              (P.S. I've always wanted to use that line - Thanks for the setup!)

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                don't knock 'em til you've tried 'em, DoobieWah -- there's a few kinds of offal that I'd happily off a buzzard for.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  Well, you and the buzzards can fight over the entrails, while me and my prime rib are warm and safe back at the cave!

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Yeah, imagine ignoring foie gras, or sweetbreads, or kidneys in mustard sauce.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      To get at the offal in the wild, you would have to fight off the top predators, not the scavengers - or be the predator yourself. Squeamishness about offal is mainly a cultural artifact.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        absolutely! the muscle fibres are the last to be claimed - go watch Nat Geo Wild if you have any doubts.

                                                        Having grown up in a part of the US where hunting is widely accepted, I also know that venison liver is the treat of the hunters. Nobody else ever sees it!

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          I don't dispute a word.

                                                          Annnnnd, while I love eggs and I love sushi, I don't care for caviar either.


                                                  2. When my parents had their restaurant, we used to cook all sorts of tongue. From beef to pig to duck.

                                                    One of my favorite dishes back then, and still today, is to braise beef tongue in soy sauce, vinegar, star anise, ginger, garlic, Shaoxing wine, and then refrigerate overnight. After it has rested and cooled, make a "sandwich" by slicing it thin and wrapping it in a Peking Duck style "bun" with a smear of Hoisin Sauce and some scallions. Just terrific. Absolutely terrific.

                                                    1. I use beef tongue a lot as a replacement/companion for stewing beef in stews (beef cubes + tongue + tendon!), curries, and even pho. It's a fantastic meat, you just have to take the time to cook it into submission. The same thing goes for beef heart - it helps to remember that the heart is just a really tough piece of muscle, so it cooks much differently than the "organ meat" like liver and kidney. As others have posted, the tongue and heart are also great for pickling.

                                                      Liver will usually end up breaded and fried, or in a liver and onions stir fry. Other than steak and kidney pie, I'll take the same filling and put it in dumplings, or wrap it in puff pastry (cooked down before stuffing).

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Underdog Rally

                                                        always liver, venetian style, with balsamic and olive oil and tongue sweet and sour, slow cooked with raisins, brown sugar and lemon. Yum.

                                                      2. I have not personally cooked beef tongue, but I had it with salsa verde at Chinato in Cleveland and it was to die for. Very tender and flavorful; the salsa verde was an excellent compliment.

                                                        1. When I was a kid we used to have tongue boiled as most of the recipes show and served with mayonnaise flavored with ballpark mustard and snipped chives.

                                                          Basque tongue stew is delicious! Here's a recipe from on-line.