I’ve been working on a series of recipes for Shepherd Song and did a version based on my favorite Argentinian style marinade, but I had a few extra tongues to play with so I tried out a couple other things too. I wanted to develop a dry cure that I could put on the tongues without having to fit a gallon of liquid in y fridge, since it’s already packed with meat. After two rounds of testing I have one that I like, it’s a blank slate for adding other ingredients or flavors, or it can be used all by itself because smoked meat should be about 2 things: meat and smoke, well, and a little salt too.
When the tongues were cured, I wanted to smoke them. The only problem was currently I’m without a restaurant, and with it, the ease of telling my prep cook to smoke XYZ before I come into work. Thankfully my girlfriend has a great little fireplace, and I figured I could Macgyver an at-home, low-tech hot smoker, I did, and it was easy. I’ve been planning on putting up a post on how to smoke things at home (without a smoker) and a couple recipes, so I’m not going to go too in depth here. The jist is: just because you don’t have an expensive smoker doesn’t mean you can’t have world-class smoked meat for your family at home.
If you have a smoker, you can probably smoke them a lot longer than I did here (about an hour) and they’ll eventually develop a nice smoke ring and be a lot darker in color. I had some farm tobacco that I’d dried and soaked. I added to the fireplace embers to add some oomph to mine as they were only going to smoke for a short amount of time since the fireplace was warm and would’ve dried out my tongues if I left them in all day. My advice: smoke your tongues however you like, with whatever you have available, necessity is the mother of invention.
This recipe is by guest chef Alan Bergo. Chef Alan Bergo is a 16 year veteran of the Midwestern culinary Industry. He was previously executive chef of The Salt Cellar and Lucia’s restaurant, as well as sous chef to Lenny Russo at St. Paul’s famed Heartland. Bergo is most widely known as an authority on wild Midwestern ingredients from his website Forager Chef a culinary journal and resource, as well as worldwide network of foragers.
Tongues can be cured with a dry method, or with a brine solution. Depending on what I want to do in the end I may do either. Here’s a little tutorial on how I prepared them. It works well with either lamb or goat tongues.
Dry Cure Method
1.5 lb goat tongues roughly 5-6 tongues depending on size, they will vary
30 grams salt
3 grams pink salt
20 grams brown sugar
Smoking and braising the tongues
- 1 tablespoon pickling spices (optional)
- A couple cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
- 2 cups large diced carrot, onion, celery,
- Stock or water, to cover
Mix the tongues with the cure, then allow to rest in the refrigerator for 4 days, turning daily. After the 4 days are up, rinse the tongues, then cold or hot smoke (not too hot, the tongues shouldn’t cook too much). After smoking the tongues, braise them with the liquid or stock and vegetables in covered pan in the oven at 325 °F for 1.5 hours, or until fork tender. Cool the tongues to room temperature, then peel, wrap tightly in plastic, label, date and refrigerate. The tongues can be frozen or will keep for one week if properly refrigerated.
Wet Cure Method
For the brine
- 1/2 gallon water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/8 cup pickling spices (optional)
- 1 T pink salt
- 1/1 lb brown sugar
- Up to ten lbs tongues
For finishing and braising
- 1 tablespoon pickling spices (optional)
- 1 bulb garlic, halved
- 4 cups large diced carrot, onion, celery,
- Water, to cover
For the brine, toast the spices, then combine with the water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Chill the brine, then submerge the tongues in it for 5 days.
After five days, remove the tongues from the brine, smoke for an hour at about 150-200 °F or longer at a lower temperature, then cover with water add the vegetables and spices and simmer until very tender, about 2.5 hours. Cool the tongues in the liquid, strain the liquid and discard. Peel the tongues, wrap tightly in plastic, label, date, and reserve until needed. Freeze if keeping over one week.