Buffalo Tongue

A simple variation on the brine and boil theme.

The rule of thumb for brining hams is a half day per pound of meat. Tongues seem to take a week for the brine to penetrate, even if they only weigh two pounds. This could be because the meat is dense and fine-textured, but that’s only a theory.

As is easy to imagine, the tongue is a highly exercised muscle. It contains lots of connective tissue that moist heat dissolves into delicious, succulent gelatin. As such tongues are almost always boiled.

I had just made some good buffalo stock, so I decided to braise this particular tongue. I didn’t expect braising to affect the tongue much differently than boiling; I just figured it would result in some very rich, gelatinous stock to play around with.

Peeling a buffalo tongueI say that I braised the tongue, but I guess I should mention that I didn’t sear the meat beforehand because there is a layer of “skin” on the tongue that is practically inedible, even after extensive cooking. In the most obvious sign that there is a God in heaven and that He wants us to eat tongue, the skin easily peels away from the cooked flesh. There’s no point in searing the tongue, as the caramelized exterior will eventually be removed.

Tongue can be eaten in any number of ways, but my favourite is sliced thin and served cold. The tongue is nature’s cold-cut.  As I said, cooked, it has lots of gelatin, and a surprising amount of fat at the base, where it connects to the bottom the mouth and throat. Unlike other fatty cuts like pork shoulder or beef shortribs, which have coarse textures, tongue has a very fine, homogeneous texture that lends itself to slicing. It’s great on sandwiches.

I made a simple tasting plate for my sliced tongue. Remember those cylinders of marrow I extracted from the soaked buffalo bones? They were poached and sliced to make little medallions of marrow. Seasoned with coarse salt, they are perfect for spreading on toast, and an ideal accompaniment to buffalo tongue and relish.

Charcuterie plate: toast, buffalo tongue, relish, and buffalo bone marrow

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