Monday, May 28, 2012

Flaming Tongue Tacos

There is something about Sunday afternoons that just make me crave a little Mexican food. I think its because I’m tired, and Mexican is warm, comforting and just crazy good. Planning ahead I resolved a while ago to make tongue tacos in celebration of Pentecost which was yesterday. At Pentecost we celebrate the birth of the church, anointing of the disciples with ‘divided tongues as of fire’ and the spread of the Gospel across the world. I invite you to read the whole story in Acts 2:1-12. This is an incredible, inspiring and exciting story and I will concede that making spicy tacos is somewhat silly way of celebrating but don’t we all need to be a little silly sometimes?

I have long maintained that tongue is an incredibly underrated cut of meat; it is tender, flavorful and just plain good. My grandmother used to regularly make tongue sandwiches for family gatherings. When I lived in Tucson, there was an amazing taquería that had great tongue tacos. When I’m in St. Louis there are several little Jewish delis that I like to go for great tongue sandwiches. Despite this great love of tongue, and despite having a cow tongue which my parents gave me in may freezer for a long time; I had never cooked tongue myself. I mean, let's face it- it seemed an intimidating undertaking. I wasn’t even sure where to begin. I looked around a little on the internet and decided to go for it. You know, it wasn’t hard at all. In fact, I must say the crock-pot did all the real work. Who doesn’t love easy crock pot dinners. After this I will never be intimidated by tongue again!

Makes 8-12 tacos

1 beef tongue
1 vidalia or yellow onion
1 cup beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp epazote
2 Tbs hot sauce
salt and pepper

1/2 green cabbage
1/2 bunch radish

Cut the onion into large chunks, place in crock pot along with beef tongue, oregano, bay leaves, epazote and hot sauce. Pour over beef stock, and enough water to completely cover the tongue. Stir around a little to mix the hot sauce in with the the water and stock. Let the crock pot cook on high for 8 hours. 

Once the tongue is fully cooked, remove from pot and allow to sit until it is cool enough to handle. The leathery coating will easily pull off and may be discarded. Thinly slice the tongue. 

Heat a little oil or cooking spray in a pan and quickly sear the slices of tongue.  Using a mandoline, slice the cabbage and radish. Warm your tortillas either in the oven or on the stove. You may now assemble your tacos. 

A few words on assembling your tacos: I feel very strongly that people commonly put far too much on their tacos. Simple tacos are the best. Get good tortillas because really the meat and the tortillas are supposed to be the stars and the quality of the tortilla really makes or breaks a taco. Here I choose to top my taco with just a little cabbage, sliced radish and a little salsa. 

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