How to make pickled pig tongues
By GORDON DRITSCHILO Herald Staff | September 02,2008
If you read past the headline, you're in for a treat. I know a whole bunch of people are going to go "ewww" and skip right over this story, but you, dear reader, will see your sense of adventure rewarded.
Some of you are probably still skeptical. You probably thought, "I'll give this a look, for curiosity's sake, but there's no way I'm eating a pickled pig tongue." Let me ask you a question.
Do you like meat?
Tongue isn't like liver or kidney. It's a muscle like most of the others you're used to eating, and a properly prepared pig tongue is just rich, flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth tender meat.
The recipe below is based on a pickled venison tongue dish I had at Montreal's Au Pied De Cochon.
It wasn't the first tongue I'd ever had — I wrote last week about my love for tongue tacos, and I was introduced to the meat at a well-regarded Jewish deli in Philadelphia that used it in some of its better sandwiches — but it was the best.
Chef Martin Picard offers a menu heavy on old-school French cooking using regional, seasonal ingredients and specializes in coming up with previously un-thought-of uses for foie gras. In that fine tradition, he offers several dishes that take parts of the animal normally cast aside here and makes them the star.
This is a dish to take your time on. You probably will not be able to run out to the supermarket and buy pig tongues. Talk to whoever has pork at your local farmers market. While they may not have anything for you for a few weeks, it will be worth the wait.
At one tongue per person, this is more of a lunch or a starter course. You'll want a good salad on the side if you are planning it for dinner.
The end result is meatiness from the tongue and tanginess from the vinegar brought together by whatever seasonings you have in the pickling solution.
Pickled pig tongue
2 pig tongues
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
2-1/2 tablespoons salt
1 sprig thyme
1 shallot, peeled, root end sliced off, cut in half lengthwise
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
4 toasted slices from a baguette
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Cook the tongues in a pot of simmering water for three hours. They are done when the skin peels off easily. Remove the skin while the tongue is still warm.
Combine the cups of water and vinegar with the salt and stir until the salt is dissolved. Add the thyme, garlic and shallot. Keep the tongues in the brine in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. I had mine there for five days.
When ready to cook, remove the tongues from the brine and slice in half lengthwise. Brown them in the butter, season with the pepper and serve with the baguette slices, a generous dollop of mustard on the side.
Adapted from "Au Pied De Cochon – The Album," by Martin Picard.
Contact Gordon Dritschilo at firstname.lastname@example.org.