Food memories are a huge part of my life, especially since I spend so much time thinking about food. When I think of my childhood, I think of comfort foods like tuna casserole, meatballs and rice, Wacky Mac, nachos, and homemade overnight potato kugel (thanks Mom). But those are just the memories from my own house. Sometimes I think about the Greek food I ate at my best friend Denah’s house and other times it’s the mouth-watering Thanksgiving stuffing in my Aunty Ellen’s dining room in Seattle. And one of my favorite memories is eating salmon skin sushi in Campbell River, Canada with my dad before our 10 day fishing trip! Well, this recipe post is devoted to another one of my favorite food memories.
When I think of my Saba and Savtah’s (grandfather and grandmother in Hebrew) dining room table, I think of Israeli couscous (I used to pick out the mushrooms and celery), sweet zucchini ring, cabbage borscht, homemade candy cane ice cream, pistachio’s in a bowl that my mom always told me not to eat, and beef tongue. As you can see, my Savtah was an incredible cook and I can keep going with my list of food memories from her house. She used to keep tins of sweets (meringue’s, mandelbrot cookies and hazen bluzen with powdered sugar) in a closet and I used to snack on them all the time. Okay, I need to focus! I can write about her cooking all day long, but right now, it’s about the beef tongue.
If you’ve never tried tongue before, this is the recipe you should start with! As I eat the sweet and tender meat, I wonder how anyone can dislike it and I realize it is all mental. If you can look beyond the fact that it is the tongue of a cow and that it actually looks like a tongue when it is sliced, you can join the club of people who are enjoying one of the most delectable meats out there. Go ahead…give it a shot! You won’t regret it.
Beef Tongue Ingredients
1 beef tongue
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp pickling spice
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 diced onions
2 Tbsp lemon juice
15 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
A raw beef tongue may not be pretty to look at, but it’s delicious! The first thing I did was set up my pressure cooker since I just got it in the mail. What a special moment for me to finally own my own pressure cooker. I remember my moms on the stove top, usually cooking chicken soup for Shabbos. Anyways, I placed the tongue on the rack in the pressure cooker with an onion, bay leaf and pickling spices. I filled the cooker half way with water. I then spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out how to close the top. I know it is so simple but I was trying to follow the directions and they were very confusing. When I finally figured out how to close the darn thing, I placed the temperature on medium-high and waiting until the jiggler (rotating) valve began to shake and hiss loudly, around 20 minutes. I then lowered the temperature to low so the pressure cooker wouldn’t explode. Yes, that can happen! At that point, the valve let out a light hiss. I set a timer for 40 minutes and let the meat do it’s thing.
40 minutes later, I turned off the heat and kept the cooker closed until the pressure subsided. If you don’t have the patience to wait, you can push the valve and the pressure will leave the pot faster. Just be careful of the steam. When I opened the top, a beautiful piece of cooked tongue was revealed!
I let the tongue cool until I could handle it with my hands, then I took it out of the pressure cooker and peeled it. I know that sounds a little gross, but it didn’t take long at all. I refrigerated the tongue over night, but you only need it to cool for a few hours. I also saved the onion to use in the sauce. I suggest you do the same.
The following evening, I took the tongue out of the fridge and sliced it (not too thin). I then layered the tongue in a pan and made the sauce.
I boiled the brown sugar, 1 onion from the pressure cooker and 1 raw diced onion, lemon juice, tomato sauce and water and poured it over the tongue. Tip: You can also use this sauce for meatballs. That’s what my Savtah used to do.
I covered the pan and placed it in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. I then uncovered it and the tongue continued to cook for another 30 minutes. This gave the sauce and dried fruit a chance to caramelize before I served it. And that’s it! Nothing to it, right?!? For a side dish, I just roasted some green beans and mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and chowed down! Just like my Savta used to make it.
And if you aren’t sure if it really tastes good, just as Michael Pelikow, one of Justin’s best friends, who came over for dinner and asked me to share the recipe with his wife, Alisa. Well, here you go, Alisa!