I made such a fuss ahead of time on Twitter yesterday about an “offal dinner” that I may have tempted fate. The completed meal was good, but I knew it wasn’t really great. I think that except for the unfamiliarity of the meat itself, at least for most people, the finished lambs tongues weren’t quite worthy of the excitement. I know I can do better.
It was my fault, and not that of the materials. I think I know what I did wrong with the tongue. While the long simmering (all along giving off filling the kitchen with the most wonderful aromas) gave me plenty of lead time for the preparation of the rest of the meal, I ended up wasting too much of it, and had to scramble near the end of that preliminary cooking process. While I was still assembling the two vegetables and a long-simmering sauce, I left the meat in the aromatic broth with the heat turned off. I think the reason I was unable to peel off the skin when I was ready to pan-grill it, sliced, was the additional cooking time, although with small goat or lamb tongues removal is not as essential as it is with veal or beef. My other mistake was in slicing the tongues crosswise instead of lengthwise, which meant that I in the end the quite small pieces had to be re-heated in a pan instead.
The simple Provençal-like tomato sauce I chose to accompany the lamb was delicious, but, as the picture indicates, it served more as a chutney than a proper sauce, and that is not what I had in mind at the beginning.
Because of the slightly problematic story of this meal it was either a very sensible or ill-advised move for me to pick up more tongue while I was at the Greenmarket today (although it happened only by chance, as I had stopped at Consider Bardwell only for cheese). I have no interest in more tongue in the near future however (this time it was just a single 12-ounce piece of veal, as extraordinarily inexpensive as the lambs tongue had been): The meat was frozen when I bought it, and that’s how it will stay for a while.
- lamb tongues (6, totaling about 12 ounces) from my favorite shepardess, Karen of 3-CornerField Farm, washed and simmered for about 90 minutes in a pot with about 4 cups of good chicken stock, one halved Christopher Ranch garlic from Eataly, some fresh thyme sprigs from Keith’s Farm, rosemary leaves from Phillips Farm, and one crushed bay leaf from Westside Market, removed from the pot, the skin removed, sliced thinly lengthwise, seasoned with salt and pepper, brushed with olive oil, briefly pan-grilled (ideally) until grill lines appear, then spread on plates and served with a tomato sauce, or salsa
- a Provençal-ish canned tomato sauce/salsa prepared as in Julia Child’s iconic, ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking; Volume Two’; a slightly-edited version of her recipe appears here (Child suggests thyme or oregano), and my ingredients included onions from John D. Madura Farm, ‘Muti’ Baby Roma tomatoes from Eataly, one bay leaf from Westside Market, thyme from Keith’s Farm, less than 1/4 teaspoon of dried Italian oregano, a piece of dried Long Island orange peel from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island, and Christopher Ranch garlic from Eataly
- a small amount of collard greens from Rogowski Farm, cut as thin ‘noodles’ and, following the greens part of this recipe), stirred into a pan in which uncured diced Colameco pancetta from Whole Foods had sautéed until starting to brown before the addition of minced Christopher Ranch garlic and a little butter, finished with juice from the same local Fantastic Gardens of Long Island lemon
- one small-to-medium fennel bulb from Eataly split into eight wedges, sautéed in a large iron pan over medium high heat with chiles and fennel seeds until the fennel began to color, then, with Christopher Ranch garlic added, the heat lowered and the pan covered, cooked for about ten minutes more, stirring occasionally, a generous amount of chopped fennel fronds added at the end [recipe from “Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe”]
- the wine was a Spanish red, Fescenino Tempranillo Ribera del Duero 2012
- the music was Ferdinand Ries’ piano quartet, op. 13 I can’t believe we don’t know this music or that of so many of his contemporaries: what, for 200 years everyone has just said, “no thanks, don’t need ’em, we already have Beethoven”