Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one’s arms around a side of beef.
~Tom Stoppard

One time, a velveteen skinned, stranded sea lion came to me on a beach much like a tired, whining and throaty barking hurt dog. We were both, well all, naked (as if that matters), and we did not know what to do as cell phones were inoperable due to canyons and obtusely did not know what the recovery timing was then.

He/she was not totally emaciated and did not appear close to death, so the dance was confusing and misguided for both of us. Whether to pet, touch, caress or simply feel or hug — never a good time to be bitten by a potentially sickened sea mammal. But, there appeared a cry for help. I had read about the starving sea lion population, particularly those who needed nursing that had “washed up” on the Channel Islands and California coasts. It seemed apparent that this sea lion was a victim of the consequences of climate change and rising ocean temperatures — confused, somewhat gaunt and forlorn. I could not even tell how old she/he was due to my ignorance. Later in the day after staying nearby she/he walked away, and the sea lion was hopefully rescued, rehabilitated and ultimately released.

Then again, who really knows?

CARPACCIO

8 or so ozs lean beef, such as tenderloin or top round, trimmed of fat, sinewy membrane, or silverskin (connective tissue)
1 T capers, rinsed
Arugula leaves and/or micro-greens, washed and spun dry
Extra virgin olive oil

Parmigiano reggiano, shaven into curls
Lemon wedges

Chill the beef (and platter) in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Cut beef against the grain into thin slices with a very sharp knife, trimming away any fat or gristle. Put each slice between layers of heavy duty plastic wrap or waxed paper and gently pound beef flat with a meat mallet to a thickness to about 1/16″ (about paper thin). Refrigerate flattened slices in plastic, until chilled, almost frozen.

Peel plastic from each slice and invert onto a chilled platter and top each slice with capers and arugula and/or micro-greens. Drizzle each portion with olive oil, then season lightly with salt and pepper.

Garnish atop carpaccio with shaven parmigiano reggiano and lemon wedges, squeezed, and serve promptly.

Buon appetito!

Pourboire: other times, carpaccio is slightly covered in pickled shallot, fine anchovies, garlic, chopped red onion, sliced grilled fennel, chives, even cherry heirloom tomatoes. Your call, but I prefer simplicity.

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Tri-Tip Awakened & Aroused

August 28, 2012

A fome é o melhor tempero (Hunger is the best of the spices).
~Portuguese proverb

Fusion cuisine is said to blend the culinary traditions of two or more disparate cultures or regions, e.g., those timeless mélanges of Moorish-Spanish or Vietnamese-Chinese-French or Saracen-Sicilian-Italian or the Malay-Indian-Arab-Chinese-Spanish-Japanese origins of Filipino dishes.  Cookery melded, kitchens merged, and cooks intermingled to create hybrids that emerged as one or so food styles.  Despite current myths, fusion has ancient roots as humans have been sharing and expanding gastronomic traditions for centuries.  Much to the chagrin of the suffering vanquished, fusion has often been the result of invasion, conquest, occupation and settlement in society’s endless quest to seize distant lands and peoples, then impose and interbreed food cultures — altering culinary landscapes. 

Imperialism and colonialism have now morphed some. More an outcome of “globalization,” fusion has lost some punch, becoming almost banal given the blurring and overlapping of culinary borders and the decay of regional boundaries. The globalization of food production, while superficially providing many of the world’s cuisines now stifles local farms and crops, sterilizes the soil, renders the food system less sustainable, and often strips the land for grazing to enhance short term mega-agribusiness profits. This leads to ecological collapses, malnutrition in many nations, and the overfeeding/wasting of unbalanced foods in developed countries. The world is entering a long-term, politically destabilizing food crisis if we continue our ways. Much like marketing was in the later half of the last century, water and food insecurity will likely be the bane of this century.

Sadly, exploitation has become more subtle, yet more pervasive, making globalization almost synonymous with the imperialism of yore. The iconic faceless pith helmets of the old world now have been replaced by the often empty dark suits and ties that grace our boardrooms. Some corporations advocate a certain consumer culture, in which the usual goods, promoted by global marketing campaigns exploit basic material desires and create like lifestyles. Homogeneity and monoculture run rampant and diversity fades. So, all of us wear the same threads and eat the same grub. Other institutions have used a more directed thrust, rendering cuisine (and other goods) more efficient, caculable, and predictable, yet less healthy, as exemplified by the pandemic spread of dreary fast food chains across the globe. These monotonous fast food principles have come to dominate sectors of society. McDonaldization.

What have we wrought?

Back to the days. As early as 50,000 BCE humans used aromatic herbs and spices to flavor their food. In the ancient world, camel caravans trudged from Calcutta, Goa and the Orient to the spice markets in Babylon, Carthage, Alexandria, and Rome. Traders eventually used ships which sailed along the Indian coast, past the Persian Gulf, along the coast of South Arabia, and finally through the Red Sea into Egypt — always facing inclement seas, robbery, shipwrecks, and piracy. The immensely profitable spice trade was long cornered by Arabians until the 13th century, when Venice emerged as the primary trade port for spices bound for western and northern Europe, making the region extremely prosperous. Later, spices were commandeered and monopolized by the wayfaring Portuguese who first circumnavigated Africa and thus created an empire. Portuguese power began to wane until England and Holland came to the fore. The Dutch organized trading posts and took control of the spice trade until they were crippled in a seemingly endless war with England which ultimately gave the British control of spice cargoes via the British East India Company. Now, spice growers export their goods through houses and merchants.

Considered sacred by most Hindus, beef is considered taboo in many Indian states.  But, peoples of other religions and certain Hindu sects eat the red stuff. It can even be found on menus in southwestern states, such as Goa and Kerala. On California’s central coast though, once home to Spaniards and Mexicans and the “birthplace” of tri-tip, this cut is thought nearly sacrosanct.

A brief, roundabout ethnic and geographic journey from spice to meat to grill, but well worth the miles and the wait. The inspired aromatics and spry flavors of this tri-tip (or any such cut) are flat sublime.   

SOUTH ASIAN TRI-TIP

1 T coriander seeds
1 T cumin seeds
1 T green cardamom pods
1 T whole cloves
1 T mustard seeds
1 t cinnamon stick, broken

1 T turmeric
1/2 t cayenne pepper

2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and halved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2 tri-tip steaks or roasts (1 1/2 to 2 1/2 lbs each)

Lemon curd, for basting (optional)

Heat the coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, mustard, and cinnamon in a medium heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, until they become aromatic and just lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool some, and then coarsely grind in a spice grinder or coffee mill devoted to the task. Transfer to a bowl with the turmeric and cayenne pepper and mix well.

Rub the meat with halved garlics then salt and pepper rather generously. Sprinkle the tri-tips with the spice mixture and rub in well. Strew minced ginger over the steaks and press into surface. Allow to stand in the fridge for about 2-4 hours. Make sure the meat reaches room temperature before grilling.

Prepare grill to medium high heat.

Grill the tri-tip for about 10 to 12 minutes per pound, turning every 6-8 minutes or so, until medium rare. Baste with lemon curd several times on both sides while grilling. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the steaks, the size of the ‘cue and the heat of the grill. The internal temperature should reach near 130 F. Because tri-tip is so lean, cooking beyond this point will render it tough.

Let stand for at least 15 minutes before carving. Consider serving with raita, a mesclun salad with fresh or roasted figs and vinaigrette along with warmed naan. Just a thought.

CFS: A Hangover Cure?

October 7, 2011

His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum.
~Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim

That dreaded hangover. Lifelessly sprawled out after a lousy night’s sleep, and then finally dragging your sweaty dog ass out of bed with bleary red eyes and black circles, nasty dry mouth, throbbing head, sour stomach—dazed and groggy with bouts of delayed recall, piecing the night together awash in remorse. An unforgiving bathroom mirror makes quick note of the evening’s overindulgence. Water galore, aspirin, pepto, vitamins, a long shower, bananas, OJ, and some coffee STAT! Afterwards, greasy carbs and maybe some hair of the dog witch.

The sober medical term is veisalgia, from the Norwegian for “uneasiness following debauchery” (kveis) and the Greek for “pain” (algia). Toxic doses of alcohol often cause dehydration (one glass causes the body to expel 800-1,000 ml of water), promote secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, inhibit glutamine production (causing fatigue), reduce sodium and potassium levels (reducing nerve and muscle function), lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), produce cytokine release (causing headaches, nausea and lethargy), and enhance glycogen losses.

Outside of abstinence, there is likely no miracle remedy for the hangover. Yet, some foods provide comfort to the wounded and even allow the body to rebound some. To each person their own potion, though food does speed up metabolic rates helping to rid the body of booze more rapidly. One suggestion is to consume the grease bombs before imbibing. This coats the stomach and intestinal linings, which slows the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol.

CFS is an amalgam of fried meat and gravy long endeared in small town cafes and truck stops. Whether labeled chicken fried steak, country fried steak, or pan fried steak, it is a culinary orphan with origins unknown. Some say the dish is a variant of wiener schnitzel, others claim it is derived from Scottish collops, while some Texas haunts zealously lay claim to the actual birthplace. Whatever its roots, CFS does remain a portion of the official state meal of Oklahoma—a rather ignominious accolade.

CHICKEN FRIED STEAK

2 1/2 lbs cube steak (tenderized round steak)
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

2 C buttermilk
3 whole eggs, beaten
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Canola oil, to cover pan
3 plump fresh garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1/4 C all purpose flour
2 C whole milk
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Green onions, sliced lengthwise, for garnish

Preheat oven to 200 F

Season the steaks on both sides with the salt and pepper. Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in a dish. Mix the flour and cayenne pepper in another dish. One by one, dredge each steak on both sides in the buttermilk/egg mixture. Next, place the meat on the plate of seasoned flour. Turn to coat thoroughly. Place the meat back into the buttermilk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Return to the flour and turn to coat. (Wet–>Dry, Wet–>Dry). Gently lay the coated steaks onto a waxed paper covered rimmed sheet pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes or so before frying.

Cover the bottom of a heavy, large skillet with canola oil, add crushed garlics and place over medium high. Once the oil begins to shimmer, remove and discard the garlics (do not burn them). Add the meat in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook on both sides until edges look golden brown, around 2-2 1/2 minutes each side.

Once each batch is done, remove to a platter lined with paper towels. Once all the steak is done, place on wire rack placed over a rimmed sheet pan, and keep warm in the oven.

Pour the skillet grease into a pyrex pitcher. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium low heat. Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan and allow to heat.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk or wooden spoon, mix flour with grease, creating a golden brown paste (roux). If necessary, sprinkle in a little more flour and whisk to achieve desired consistency.

Whisking constantly, slowly pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy, stirring frequently. Add more milk if the gravy becomes overly thick. Salt and generously pepper, cooking until the gravy is smooth and thick, about for 5-10 minutes. Taste again, as underseasoned gravy is a sacrilege. Plate, ladle the gravy over the steaks, garnish with sliced green onions, and serve with smashed potatoes and a green (maybe even fried eggs).

Pourboire: some researchers opine that bacon combats the common hangover by boosting amine levels which clear the head. So, consider adding bacon lardons after removing the steaks, cook until crisp and remove to paper towels. The bacon fat forms a base for the gravy and the reserved lardons can be used as a garnish.

The man who doesn’t like oysters, the woman who cannot abide sardines. We know the type.
~Harold Nicolson

Just a basic indulgent dish.

Savory oyster sauce is traditionally made by condensing this exquisite shellfish’s extracts yielded from its white broth. This translucent to opaque stock, similar to clam juice, is then reduced until the proper viscosity is attained and the sauce has caramelized to a dark sienna hue. Due to cost constraints though, this old school version is rarely made commerically. Rather, oyster sauce in today’s markets is a syrupy dark brown condiment made from an olio of sugar, salt, water, thickened with cornstarch, and flavored with oyster extract. Even weakened some, it does not lack for umami.

BEEF, BROCCOLI, & MUSHROOMS WITH OYSTER SAUCE

12 oz beef sirloin
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 T oyster sauce
1/2 T sesame oil
1 T fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 T honey
1/2 T baking powder

2 T peanut oil
4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, finely chopped
2 C broccoli florets
1 t Shaoxing rice wine (or pale dry sherry)
1 T dried chile flakes

3 1/2 oz oyster mushrooms
Dash black rice vinegar, to taste
Dash soy sauce, to taste

On a heavy cutting board, cover the beef in saran wrap and beat with a mallet until half as thin. Slice the beef into 1/2″ slices and place into a bowl. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ginger, honey and baking powder. Mix well and set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat with peanut oil until just smoking and add the garlic and jalapeño chile. Stir fry for a few seconds, then add the beef slices and toss for a few minutes, until just barely cooked. Place into a bowl or onto a large serving plate. Tent and set aside.

Place the wok back onto the heat and add the remaining oil, then add the broccoli and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked to your liking, about 3 minutes. Pour in the Shaoxing rice wine and sprinkle over the dried chilli flakes.

Add the oyster mushrooms, season with black rice vinegar and soy sauce and then stir fry until just cooked, about 1-2 minutes. Add the beef back to the wok and heat.

Serve over rice.

Beef Rib Eye Roast(s)

November 17, 2010

Beware vegans who enter. Rib eye roast is a carnivore’s rapture—almost as if a slab should be firmly grasped between hairy paws while gnawing away, all the while fending off famished guests. A beef rib roast where the 6th through the 12th rib bones are removed leaving just the rib eye muscle, this marbled cut can stand alone. A roast that indulges without much embellishment.

And please take no offense vegetarian friends. Hopefully, there should be no bones to pick. I simply remain an ardent, steadfast omnimvore who savors species from both plant and animal kingdoms.

Two cardinal rules: (1) have the butcher freshly carve the roast to your specs and liking; and (2) take care not to overcook as the roast can quickly turn from carnal nirvana into bland leather. Just keep a keen eye on the internal temperatures.

As noted below, my preference is for a bone-in version. However, you will need adequate table numbers for that.

BEEF RIB EYE ROAST WITH SHALLOTS & PORT

3 C chicken broth
2 C beef broth
2 C port

3 T butter, softened
3 T all-purpose flour

12 large shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil, to coat
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

3 lb. boneless rib eye roast, freshly cut and patted dry
4 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, stems discarded and minced
3 T dijon mustard
1 T prepared hot horseradish cream
Sea salt and coarsely ground fresh pepper

Preheat oven to 425 F

In a large, heavy sauce pan, boil port and stock until mixture is reduced to about half (3 1/2 cups). Once cooled some, pour into a bowl and set aside.

With your fingers knead butter and flour together in a small bowl to form a smooth paste (beurre manié). Set aside.

In a large bowl, season shallots with salt and pepper and toss in olive oil. Set aside

In a medium bowl, mix together the garlic, thyme, dijon mustard and horseradish.

Season meat with salt and pepper and slather with mustard mixture. In a large roasting pan, cook rib eye, fat side up, for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and continue roasting until done, about 1 hour. After 20 minutes, add the shallots in the roasting pan. While cooking, stir shallots around occasionally and baste. You may even want to add a little stock and port during the roasting process.

Cook until roast is done and remove shallots to a bowl with a slotted spoon. From an internal read thermometer, the temperature of the roast should be 125 F when removed. Remove meat and allow to rest on a cutting board, loosely tented in foil, for 20 minutes. It will continue to cook while resting and should reach a temperature of about 130 F for medium rare before carving.

Meanwhile, place roasting pan over high heat on stove on two burners. Add port/broth mixture and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Strain and transfer pan sauce to a medium, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove saucepan from heat, and vigorously whisk in the beurre manié a spoonful at a time into the port/broth mixture for a few minutes until sauce thickens. If the sauce should thicken before using all of the beurre manié, simply stop adding more. Stir in roasted shallots and season to taste.

Carve roast to your liking and serve with shallot and port sauce. Consider gratin dauphinois, puréed potatoes and turnips, artisanal noodles and a cooked or fresh green of your calling. Pairing with a luscious, full bodied red goes without saying.

Pourboire: should you do the right thing and opt for a bone-in roast, it will likely be four ribs across and weigh in at about 9-10 lbs. In a large roasting pan, cook rib eye 20 minutes at 450. Reduce heat to 350 F and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center (not touching bone) registers 110 F, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours after the original high temperature roasting. Transfer to platter and let rest, slightly tented, at least 20 minutes when temperature will again rise to about 130 F for medium rare.

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
~Mark Twain

For those ‘que souls who shamefully limit their grilling to fair weather, the season is upon you. Honor thy grill—light up. Rebirth it. Many love grilling in the chill.

A balance of sweet and savory, kalbi kui are a Korean culinary hallmark. In the mother tongue kalbi or galbi are translated as “beef ribs” and kui means “grilling.” Linguistic and culinary morphology converge, straight to the point.

Korean style short ribs can be found at Asian markets or your local butcher’s…you know, that carver with whom you have or should have curried favor. The cut, also known as “flanken,” refers to a strip of beef cut across the bone from the chuck end of the short ribs. Unlike American or European short ribs, which include a thick slice of bone-in beef, Korean short ribs are cut lengthwise across the rib bones. The result is a thin strip of meat, around 9″ long, lined on one side with 1/2″ thick rib bones. The thin slices make for prompt grilling, so Kalbi requires vigilance and nurturing. Please have your grilling drink already at hand or you will surely overcook these succulent delicacies by stepping inside for a refill.

To serve Kalbi, cut into pieces with a heavy chef’s knife or hefty kitchen shears, and then wrap inside a crisp lettuce leaf with a slathering of steamy white rice, a swab of gochichang (Korean red bean paste), a sauce/condiments or two, toasted sesame seeds and green onion slivers.

Kimch’i, the ubiquitous and revered Korean pickled cabbage side dish varies rather widely according to region, season and kitchen. For instance, a coastal kimchi will be saltier than that of a landlocked area, and summer cooks produce cooling water kimchis to contrast with the heartier cabbage kimchis of the autumn and winter. Korea boasts hundreds of differing kimchi recipes, each rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins fostered by the lactic acid fermentation of cabbage, radish, and other vegetables and seafood.

The kind of food you are destined to fall for…

KALBI KUI (GRILLED KOREAN BEEF SHORT RIBS)

4 lbs beef short ribs, Korean style
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C honey

1 C soy sauce
2 T canola oil
1/4 C mirin (rice wine)
1/2 medium onion, peeled and finely grated
1 Asian pear, peeled and grated
8 plump fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 T sesame oil
1 t red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

Lettuce leaves
Cooked white rice
Gochichang (red bean paste)
Sauces/condiments as below
Toasted sesame seeds
Green onions, thinly sliced lengthwise

Mix sugar and honey with beef and mix well to evenly coat. Set aside while preparing marinade. In a bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Transfer beef into a large sealable freezer bag. Add marinade and seal well. Turn bag several times to ensure beef is evenly coated. Refrigerate at least overnight, turning the bag a few times more while marinading.

Heat charcoal grill to medium high. Drain excess marinade off beef. Grill short ribs, turning once, to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve in lettuce leaves as described earlier.

Pourboire: many cooks prefer to use a cup of citrus soda (7up, Sprite, et al.) in lieu of the sugar and honey in the marinade claiming that it further tenderizes the meat.

BAECHU KIMCH’I

1 head Napa or Chinese cabbage, cored and finely shredded
Water, to cover
1 C coarse sea salt

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 C rice wine vinegar
2 T fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
1 – 2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 C+ red chili flakes or 1/3 C chili paste (to taste)
1 medium daikon radish, peeled and grated
2 T sugar or honey
1/4 C peanut oil

In large glass bowl, dissolve the salt into the water. Add cabbage to salt water and if necessary, weigh down with large plate so leaves remain submerged. Soak cabbage in refrigerator for 5-6 hours, preferably overnight. Remove cabbage and rinse in cold water, squeezing out excess liquid.

Place rinsed cabbage and green onions in a large glass bowl.

In a processor or blender, combine rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chili flakes or paste, radish and sugar or honey, blending until smooth. With the blade running, slowly add the oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour the mixture over the shredded cabbage and onions, and gently toss.

Pack the kimchi in a large, well fitted glass jar and cover tightly. Let stand for one to two days in a cool place, around room temperature. Check the kimchi after 1-2 days. Once bubbles appear on the surface, place in the refrigerator. It should be refrigerated for 2 days before serving to allow the cabbage to further wilt and the flavors to meld. Kimchi will grow increasingly pungent as it sits, so it is ideal after about 2 weeks and surely eaten within a month.

Ginger-Scallion Sauce
2 1/2 C thinly sliced scallions
1/2 C fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 C grapeseed or canola oil
1 T light soy sauce
1 t sherry vinegar
Pinch of sea salt

In a medium bowl whisk all ingredients together.

Ssäm Sauce
1/3 C fermented bean & chili paste (ssamjang)
2 T chili paste (kochujang)
1 t sherry vinegar
1/4 C grapeseed or canola oil

In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together.

Gochu Garu and Sichuan Pepper
3 T Korean red pepper powder (gochu garu)
1 t Sichuan peppercorn, toasted and ground
1 t white sesame seeds, toasted
Pinch of sea salt
2 T canola oil
Pinch of sugar

In a small bowl, combine the Korean red pepper powder, Sichuan peppercorn, sesame seeds and salt. In a small saucepan, warm the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking.

Pour half of the hot oil over the chile powder mixture. Whisk the mixture and add the remaining oil. Stir again to moisten all of the dry ingredients and add the sugar.

Allow the mixture to cool, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and/or sugar.

“Korean” Soy Sauce
2 T shoyu
1 T water
1-2 t sesame oil
1 t white sugar
1 t raw sugar
1 plump, fresh garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 t Korean red pepper powder (gochu garu)
2 T green onion, white and green parts finely chopped
3 t sesame seeds, toasted then crushed with a mortar and pestle

In a small bowl, stir together the shoyu, water, sesame oil and sugars, until the sugars have fully dissolved. Add the garlic, red pepper powder, green onion and sesame seeds. Refrigerate while the pork cooks to allow the flavors to meld.

Whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue.
~Persian proverb

Unlike politics or religion, food allows us to set aside preconceived notions in kinder, gentler ways. In this way, tongue could be considered a poster child.

It befuddles me how many carnivore cultures find the hips, flanks and chest of a bloody butchered animal to be much more appealing than the tongue, a part of the creature which even provokes a truculent reaction in some—much like the revulsant ewws! from deep fried tarantulas or raw grubs. These are the same offended folks who regale in processed franks which happen to be crammed with unknown mechanically separated meat,* sodium phosphates, dextrose, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, and other “if-you-can’t-say-it-don’t-eat-it” ingredients. So there is no confusion, I do share their passion for a good dog.

Thankfully, Mom introduced me to this exquisitely mild and tender flesh while I was young so as not to bear the usual prejudices. Whether in a sandwich with horseradish cream, in a frisée salad with a Dijon vinaigrette and chopped olives, on a taco with salsa verde, tongue is not only vastly underrated, it is a royal treat. No challenge to cook, economical, versatile, tender, delectable. What else can you demand from a food?

Regardless of the animal (whether beef, calf, lamb or pork), do hold the truth to be self-evident that the smaller the tongue the better. When purchasing, fresh tongue should be pink or pale red in color.

BRAISED TONGUE

1 fresh calf tongue (about 3 lbs)

8 C+ chicken broth
1 C+ red wine
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 plump, fresh garlic head, divided into cloves, peeled and smashed
10 black peppercorns
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves

Cover the tongue and remaining ingredients with broth (or equal parts broth and water) and wine. Bring just to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Skim off the froth on the surface after a few minutes. Simmer, covered, until tender for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove tongue, and briefly plunge into an ice and cold water bath to cease the cooking process. Drain, then begin skinning with fingers and a paring knife. The skin should come off easily. Trim away the small bones and gristle.

To carve, place the tongue on its side and, starting at the tip, cut slices on the diagonal.

Mechanically separated meat is a paste, batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue.

Pourboire: If desired, sauté the onions, carrot and garlic until the onions are translucent before adding the broth and wine.