Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Setting the Tongue Wagging

Yep - that's one hell of a big licking muscle I've got there.

I spent some of yesterday making pressed ox-tongue to go in my lunchtime sarnies and to keep Mrs The Millbrooker happy, because she's very fond of a bit of tongue.

After hours of cooking, we had a bit of the big waggly thing braised for our dinner and I pressed the rest of it in a jelly for serving cold over the next few days. Scrumptiously scrummy.

For anyone who's never tried this operation, it's simplicity itself. All you need is a little bit of patience:

First up, go to a proper butcher (we use Mr Gliddon in Torpoint, but you'll have your own favourite animal chopper-upper). You'll probably have to order the whole tongue, most places don't keep them just lying around. We get ours vacuum packed by the butcher so I can freeze them until I'm ready to cook.

Put the whole tongue into a deep pan and cover with cold water. Add a stock cube (ok - it's cheating to use a cube, but what the hell), a couple of chopped up carrots, a chopped up onion, plenty of whole black peppercorns and (if you feel like it) a few other bits of root vegetable and/or celery.

Finally (again this is only if you want to) pour in a couple (or three or four) tablespoons of port. Use the really cheap-shit stuff, though; it's dreadful to use the good stuff in cooking when you could give it to me to drink.

Bring the whole lot to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for three hours. Yep - that's right THREE hours. Tongue is a really tough muscle and you need to cook it for a long time.

Take the tongue out of the liquid, the rough outer layer of skin should now peel away easily using your fingers. If it doesn't, put the whole thing back in the pot and simmer for a bit longer. Try to peel it again. And so on.

(If your butcher hasn't already removed the small bone at the base of the tongue, it'll come away easily at this point as well).

Once you've got the thing peeled, curl it into a container that's just big enough to contain it.

Mix up some gelatine as per packet instructions, and then add about a pint of the stock that you've cooked the tongue in. Pour this over the curled up tongue and place a flat(ish) plate over the top and then weight it down with anything you've got to hand. I use an iron door-stop on a piece of kitchen roll in a cast iron saucepan.

Leave to cool and then refridgerate.

One tongue will easily provide the meat for four good sized hot meals and enough cold meat for a week's worth of sarnies. The stock you cooked it in makes a very tasty winter soup by adding a potato and boiling it again until the potato is tender, then whizzing the lot with a hand blender.

Yummy yummy yummy - and so very inexpensive in these difficult financial times. Just you listen to Old Uncle The Millbrooker.

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