Thursday, December 8, 2011



Some may be shocked at the thought of this dish or others like it but I find it delicious. Beef tongue can be made a multitude of way and when prepared properly it is tender lean and delicious. Its really good in tacos and cured, pepper crusted and sliced thin it makes a most wonderful Jewish style sandwich.

The way it is served above is Slovakian style. We do this fairly often with beef tongue as well as pork tongue but not usually smoked. Smoked meats are pretty common in Slovakia and across Europe because it is a means of preservation. Done in the past out of necessity now mostly because it is just so damn tasty. 

Get a hold of a cow tongue. Stretch it out on the cutting board and cut off the excess skin form the bottom. You can make this dish without smoking the tongue and it is just as good though it will lack the smoked flavor. If you are not going to smoke it start a large enough stock pot to fit the tongue with salted boiling water. Drop in the tongue and let it boil until the skin pulls away from the muscle. Then remove it from the pot and run it under cold water. The skin should pull away and peel off. If not return it to the water until the skin pulls away. Set the peeled tongue aside. 

If you decide to smoke it start the smoker going as low in temp as possible and smoke it with a mild wood like apple or cherry for about two or three hours. Just enough to infuse some smoke flavor. Over smoked will make the flavor to strong for the delicate paprikash sauce.  

After smoking set it out on a cutting board.  With a sharp filet or boning knife peel the skin from the muscle. This is done by putting the knife just under the skin. After a small piece of skin has been lifted grab it with a kitchen towel so it does not slip from the fingers. Move the knife along while pulling off the skin. Much like you would skinning a side of salmon.  

Slice the tongue into half inch slice and set them aside. 

  • Beef or pork tongue sliced. 
  •  1 large onion minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 3 tablespoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons flour and butter roux
  • A little vegetable oil

Get a large enough heavy pot hot over medium high heat. Pour in a little vegetable oil to cover the bottom. Then drop in the bay leaf and the caraway seeds. When the seeds start to crackle a little drop in the onions and garlic and stir. When they start to sweat and maybe turn a little brown put in the paprika and toss for a 30 seconds. Then pour in the beef stock and other ingredients except for the sour cream and the roux.

Turn down to low and cover, simmer until the beef tongue is completely tender. About two hours. Take out a piece intermittently to check.

When the beef tongue is tender remove from the heat. Gradually add the sour cream while stirring constantly. Then add the roux and stir well. Return the pot to the burner and simmer uncovered until the sauce becomes thick. 

Serve with rice, elbow pasta or Hungarian dumplings like above. Garnish with a little sprinkle of paprika. 

                                              Shown here is pork tongue that is not smoked.

Good stuff. 

To quote a friend: "Do you taste this dish, or does it taste you".

Monday, December 5, 2011


Sun Dried Tomato and Cheese Polenta topped with a Bolognese sauce
Served with a Side of Broccoli rabe in oil and garlic.

Since we are on the subject of Italian food and preparations that will make your arms tired lets talk about polenta. Polenta is made all around the world but the Italian version is most widely known. Around the turn of the century there was a problem with polenta. People were eating all of the time because the corn meal was readily available and cheap. In these improvised times many people took to eating only polenta. The problem is that the vitamins in the corn meal was locked inside and no manner of cooking could make them digestible. Therefore people were suffering from severe vitamin deficiencies. This led to many people becoming mentally unstable as their brain was not getting the vitamins it needs. There is an old Italian saying; "pazzo dalla polenta" translates to "crazy from the polenta.

Polenta does not take much skill but it does take time cause much like risotto you have to stir it constantly.

Any coarse ground yellow corn meal will work for this recipe but it is best to use the Italian variety. Instant is OK if you can find it and it goes much quicker but the real stuff works much better. 

INGREDIENTS: For 6-8 servings. 
  • 2 cups polenta (or coarse ground yellow corn meal.)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomato chopped (optional) 
  • 4 cups chicken, veal or pork stock. 
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese.   
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for frying
Put a large enough stock pot on a burner set to high. Pour in the stock, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then pour in the polenta meal. While stirring constantly bring it to a boil and then turn the burner down to low. 
Simmer on low while stirring constantly. If it gets to thick too fast add some water. If it is too thin add some more corn meal. Keep stirring as it thickens and the starches release. after about 20 to 30 mins. It will be VERY thick. So thick that it is said a wooden spoon will stand up in it. This is hard to do if your pot is shallow though. Stir in the Parmesan cheese now.

Oil an 8" x 12" casserole or the like and then turn out the thickened polenta into it. Smooth out the top and make sure there are no air bubbles or pockets in the polenta cake. Set this to cool on the counter and then cover with palstic wrap and put it into the fridge to cool and set. 

After it has completely set carefully turn the casserole over onto a cutting board and let the polenta drop out. 

Slice it into 1/2"-3/4" thick pieces and set them aside. 

Get a fry pan hot over medium high heat and add about 3/4" deep of oil. Then carefully drop in the polenta pieces. Fry until golden brown then flip and brown on the other side. Place the fried pieces on a paper towel to drain. 

To serve, plate them and top them with your favorite sauce. Grandma Capozzoli's tomato gravy would be awesome but just a quick tomato and basil sauce would do the trick. 

Goes great with sauteed spinach or other greens or just a simple salad and fresh fruit. Very authentic old world Italian!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Really nice warming dish that goes very well with braised breast of veal featured on the previous page. It requires some attention but it is not hard to do. It is short grain rice cooked in stock until thick and creamy. Another European peasant dish that was born out of necessity. Once the food of the poor now elevated to the gourmet.

INGREDIENTS: for 6 servings
  • 1-1/2 cups arborio rice 
  • Approximately 3-4 cups veal or chicken stock 
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup of dried wild porcini mushrooms. (reconstituted and chopped)  or fresh.
  • 1 cup locatelli or pecorino romano cheese (grated)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg grated
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • fresh cracked black pepper ground and sea salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley. 
PROCEDURE: Put a large enough thick stock pot on the stove set to med high. Let the pot get hot and then add the butter, onions and garlic. Let these brown just slightly then add the rice. Toss and let the rice toast a little until the grains go opaque white.

Then add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.Stir a little then add the white wine and chopped mushrooms. After the alcohol cooks off add a cup of stock. Bring to a boil then turn the heat on the lower side. It should be simmering. Stir constantly until all fo the stock is absorbed. Then add another cup of stock and stir constantly until that is absorbed. Keep repeating this process until all of the stock is used up or you have reached the desired tenderness and consistency. It will take about 25-35 mins.

Add the cheese and remaining ingredients stir. If before serving it gets too thick just add some milk or water and stir again. Be careful reheating it may stick, always keep stiring.

Plate it and garnish with some grated cheese and some chopped fresh parsley. 

Stiring is the key in making good risotto. Stir constantly, your arm may get tired but just look at it as exercise.