Recipe Repertoire 5/52...

11 March, 2014

I am all for nose to tail eating. But one meat cut has been eluding me. Some would say for good reason.

Not that appealing really, is it.

That there is an ox tongue.

Now I'm not particularly squeamish when it comes to meat. I will just as happily tuck into oxtail, lamb shanks and pigs trotters as I will eye fillet. Well, maybe not quite as happily (as I love eye fillet!) but pretty close. Its fair to say I will give most things a go. I've eaten black pudding, after all. (I ordered it by accident in a restaurant, and then felt I couldn't really back out.) I've eaten heart, liver, kidneys and brains.

But never tongue.

While I was at the farmers market (Collingwood, my favourite!) this weekend, while picking up the most delicious of meat products from Warialda Beef, I saw tongue on the list and just knew the time was right to give it a go.

Having got the 1.2kg tongue home (these are big beef!) I then needed to figure out how to prepare and cook the damn thing. For that I headed to that whole-animal-consumption sage, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

His Meat Book is probably my second favourite of the HFW River Cottage publications, after the delightful Veg Everyday. It is a tome, but is an excellently constructed one. There is amazing detail on different cuts of meat from beef, pork, lamb, through to poultry including game birds, and excellent details on offal. Purchase and preparation are thoroughly covered, as well as an extremely well considered discussion on the merits of meat eating in the first place.

This is not a book that shy's away from the big issues. But regardless of the rational for eating meat, the philosophy of not wasting a scrap of an animal killed for consumption resonates with me. I think it a pretty poor effort to only eat prime cuts, not to mention a complete loss of opportunity for deliciousness.

So I looked up tongue in the index, and was directed immediately to this:


Seems tongue is not so tricky as I had anticipated. Simply boil the massive thing in a large pot with onion, garlic, carrot, celery and herbs, until you can pierce it with a skewer. Easy peasy.

So I did. And I ended up with this.

Not quite what I had in mind, but its got potential.

I let it cool, then set about peeling the unapetising skin.

Lets see if the cats like ox tongue skin. They do.

This left a skinless tongue, which I then pulled apart to have a look at the texture of the meat.

It had a stringy looking texture, with the fibers running from top to bottom along the tongue.

And now, the moment of truth.

It was really very nice. Very similar to lamb shank, with a soft unctuous, slightly fatty-ish texture that a lot of slowly braised dishes achieve.

While I was preparing, chopping and tasting, I had put the boiling liquid on a high heat to reduce down the ox tongue-y stock. While I had a lovely rich casserole type dish, I wanted some fresh flavours to brighten up the dish.

HFW provides again. I made these with parsley alone, whizzed in the thermomix in seconds and clumped into balls and dropped into the simmering reduced stock.

Then the lid went back on, and I headed out into the garden to get a bit of veg for a side dish.

There you have it - Ox tongue with parsley dumplings and steamed beans.

A lovely casserole dish for heading into the cooler months. I will definitely be adding this cut, and recipe, to the repertoire.


  1. Now I was going 'no,no,no' as I scrolled through the pictures - but then the last one looks good! Score for you and Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall

    1. I know, but I think that's half the challenge to be go over. It looks pretty uninteresting, if not plain unappetising, until you get to the end bit where it's on your plate. I do love the Hugh Fearlessly Eatsital moniker!!

  2. i'm afraid it's too early in the morning for me - i am very squeamish about these things at th best of times! but i appreciate the philosophy of not wasting a jot of an animal if we have killed it. and well done you for just giving it a go.
    i must say i like the look of those limey-green dumplings. i can imagint hem with greenbeans too and a good splash of rich tomato pasta sauce.

    1. Well, I try. I appreciate it's not for everyone.
      But the parsley dumplings would go very well with a tomato casserole, or a ratatouille...

  3. I read this post with vegetarian fascination/horror (except for the bit about the parsley dumplings, which sound fab), but I'm so impressed. If animals are going to be killed, it is so important that all the edible bits of them get eaten, so that fewer animals can be killed. And animals do get killed, of course - even in the production of vegetables (... if only I could bring myself to eat snails and mice and starlings ... well-cooked, because I have the fear of parasites, bigtime). I've been really wanting to get into eating roadkill, but I have 20 years of meat-abstinent squeamishness to override.

    1. True, all very good points. I have been playing with the idea of eating snails, but haven't quite brought myself to it yet. I just give them to the ducks instead. And I'd be quite happy to eat road kill, if I knew it was fresh and not otherwise compromised. But that is quite a few years of food habits and choices to override. I'm impressed at the idea though.

  4. The last pic DOES look good; better than the first. Dished up and not told what it is, and I would have a go, but otherwise.....10/10 for you 0/10 for me.

    When things get really bad in the food situation and I come across an ox tongue, I will return to this post. Until then....

    1. Isn't it funny how sometimes ignorance is bliss.
      Anyway, I hope things never get bad enough to require further aquaintance with an ox tongue.