Adapted from April Bloomfield’s recipe
Since the first time I tried tongue, I’ve been enamored with it. I know, I know. A tongue on your tongue may sound strange or off-putting or even a little perverse (just ask Julia Lewis Dreyfus). Yet for me, it beats most prime cuts of meat (at least, those that I can afford), no questions asked. It’s tender and juicy—meaty, yes, but never stringy or tough the way steak can easily get. And it comes at a fraction of the cost. So, when I came across this recipe from April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig, I was thrilled. Seared slices of beef tongue, fresh peppery arugula, and a tangy tarragon sauce between two crusty slices of baguette. I swoon.
Her loving treatment of the beef tongue is well-warranted and delivers succulent perfection. But upon trying her recipe myself, I was astonished at how much time it would take to prepare the tongue—more time than I’ve ever invested, and I’ve been cooking tongue for several years now. Hours and hours, to the point where she’s actually talking about using days to prepare the dish. Now, I had fresh tongue straight from the butcher, and I wanted it that day. For lunch. And I knew there was no reason I couldn’t.
My take on Chef Bloomfield’s recipe cuts down on the time necessary to produce these luscious sandwiches while sacrificing very little in terms of the pay-off. But beyond my streamlining of the cook-time, my fiancé and I both felt that it would be worth mentioning that you don’t necessarily need these amazing ingredients to be confined between two pieces of bread. Try nestling these slices of meaty heaven onto a bed of arugula dressed with the tarragon sauce and an extra drizzle of olive oil and flaky salt. Lower carb, just as satisfying. Either way, do what gives you bliss.
1 beef tongue, trimmed of any hard bits
1 large carrot, rough chopped
1 large onion, rough chopped
2 ribs of celery, rough chopped
1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
2 bay leaves
2-3 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup dry white bread (no crust), finely chopped
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP capers, drained and finely chopped
4 anchovy filets (jarred, packed in oil in salt), finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup olive oil
A large handful of fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped, or 1 TBSP dried tarragon
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and finely chopped
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP canola oil
1 baguette (wide enough to hold a good amount of meat and greens), sliced in half horizontally and then cut into four pieces (to make four sandwiches)
About 2 cups arugula
Put the beef tongue in a large pot or Dutch oven, along with the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and bay leaves. Add enough cold water to cover the tongue and vegetables, and add the salt, black pepper, and white wine. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 2-3 hours, until the tongue is easily pierced with a knife.
Meanwhile, make the tarragon sauce. In a medium bowl, combine the bread and red wine vinegar; set aside. On a cutting board, place the capers, anchovies, and garlic in a little pile and finely chop it together, until it becomes a bit like a paste. Add that to the medium bowl with the bread and vinegar. Add the mustard, olive oil, tarragon, and boiled egg, and stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning and add extra salt, pepper, and dried tarragon as necessary. Cover and place in the refrigerator for later.
Once the beef tongue is cooked through, carefully remove to a cutting board and allow to cool. While that’s happening, strain the leftover liquid from the pot and reserve for a future recipe (you’ve got beautiful, flavorful stock now). When the tongue is cool enough to handle, strip off the outer layer of the tongue; you will mostly be able to just pull it off easily with your fingers, but may also want the assistance of a butter knife. Discard the outer layer.
Pat the tongue dry (you don’t want any residual liquid when you go to sear it). Chop into 1/2” slices—you’ll want about 8 of these, and will have lots of leftover tongue for other uses. In a large skillet, heat the butter and canola oil over high flame. Add the slices of tongue (you may need to split this into two batches) and sear for about a minute on each side, until you’ve got a nice brown color.
Open the four segments of the baguette you’ve cut for sandwiches and spread the tarragon sauce onto each piece. Add the arugula to the bottom piece, lay two slices of the seared tongue on top as they come out of the pan, and then close the sandwich with the top piece of baguette. Serve immediately!