Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Afiambrada-língua de boi

   Afiambrada Casa Rosada style with home David Lebovitz´s Homemade mustard

Afiambrada as served at LSD in Porto
You may remember back in June, I shared with you how on a visit to Porto I had re-touched childhood memories with a plate of Lingua de Afiambrada,ox tongue and home made seed mustard.This stuck in my memory and I vowed that before the year was out I would bring back tradition and recreate my mother´s recipe for a brine cured pressed ox tongue.
Well, last week my butcher having remembered that I enquired about the availability of ox tongue and how much it cost, proffered me with just one of those.
I know, I know… this offal recipe might not be on top of everyone’s list of favourites, but I think you should at least give it a chance… if only a tiny little one.
I have never had a problem with the fact that I was eating an animal´s tongue and honestly, once you get over the aversion to the fact that it’s an actual tongue you’re dealing with, the whole experience just gets that much easier.
Once relegated to Jewish delis and sandwich lunches, tongue—like the rest of its offal brethren—is making glamorous appearances in butchers, supermarkets and on restaurant menus. Ever game for taking tough, cheap cuts and turning them into meat magic, chefs are using tongue again.Lets encourage this and see more tradition being incorporated into menus by chefs ( you know who you are) rather than pandering to what you think tourists want. While the affordable low price point is a clear draw—the real allure is the meat itself. The delicate texture that emerges after a long slow brine  and a heavy pressing under weights make this meat once again a shining star on smart restaurant menus, but so accessible at home too.Please people, start educating your children by bringing back culinary traditions and introducing them to the meals their grandmother gave you.Then and only then will we  have a healthier world with better nutrition,parents being able to give their children more affordable meals and last but not least, less obesity.Wake up and enjoy what was good in this world.Thank you Restaurant Largo Sao Domingos for bringing back this memory and inspiring me with this project.

HOME PRESSED OX TONGUE
Yield: Approximately 750g (1½lb) cooked meat
Serves 6 - 8
Before embarking on this project please refer to the guidelines below*


First up you need to rinse the tongue well and place it in a bowl or plastic container that´s large enough to to hold the tongue  plus about 8 cups of brine.

After your brine has cooled down completely, pour it right over your beef tongues until they are completely covered.

After the meat has been cured, rinse it under cold running water and place it in a large casserole or dutch oven; discard the brine, it’s done its job!
Add onions, garlic, celery and carrots to your casserole and cover with cold water.
No need to get fancy-schmancy with the vegetables here. You can even leave the peel on: it’ll only give more flavor to the cooking liquid!

Pressed and ready for sandwiches or cold cutting
Melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavoursome.
 Traditional comfort food at its best!

HOME PRESSED OX TONGUE
Yield: Approximately 750g (1½lb) cooked meat
Serves 6 - 8
INGREDIENTS
    TO CURE THE MEAT
  • 1.5kg (1½lb) ox tongue
  • 8 cups water
  • 2/3 cup coarse flor de sal
  • 2 tablespoons pink curing salt (prague powder )
  • 1 tablespoon spices,mustard seeds,coriander seeds,allspice,peppercorns,dried chilli
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 10-12 juniper berries
  • 1/2 whole cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise
  • TO COOK THE MEAT
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 celery rib, cut in half
  • 1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
  • Enough water to cover the meat
INSTRUCTIONS
    CURING THE MEAT
  1. Add all the ingredients, except for the tongue, to a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Stir until the salt is completely dissolved, then kill the heat and let the brine come down to room temperature. If at all possible, place it in the fridge and let it cool overnight. To speed up the process, you could also add only half of the water to the stockpot and put the other half in the freezer, then add the cold water to the brine once it has boiled and the salt has completely dissolved.
  2. Once the brine has cooled down, place your tongue into a non-reactive container and pour the brine right over it until it’s completely covered. Now you need to make sure that your meat is completely submerged and that it will remain submerged for the entire duration of the curing process. If it wants to float to the top, weigh it down with a plate or any other similar clean and non-reactive object that fits snugly inside your container.
  3. Place your meat in the fridge and leave it to cure for 12 to 14 days. Check daily to make sure that your meat is still submerged.

  4. BRAISING THE MEAT
  5. After the meat is done curing, rinse it under cold running water and place it in a Dutch oven; add onions, garlic, celery and carrots and cover with cold water. Discard brine.
  6. Cover your beef tongue place it in a 250F oven for about 6 hours or until the meat is super tender and pulls apart when you tug at it with a fork.
  7. Remove the cooked meat from the oven and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes and then peel the skin off. If your meat is cooked all the way, the skin should come right off. If it offers resistance, put it back in the oven and give it a bit more time in there.
        PRESSING THE MEAT
  1. Once the tongue has been completely peeled,and has been allowed to cool, transfer it to a 15cm (6") loose bottomed cake tin set within a pie dish in case of any leakage.Curl it round inside the cake tin as tight as possible and then place a ceramic pie dish or souffle dish with a slightly smaller diameter on top of the tongue.Put 6kg (8lb)of weights inside the soufflé dish and leave to set overnight in the fridge.When ready to serve,remove the dish with the weights and gently ease the pressed tongue from the cake tin.With a very sharp carving knife slicevery thin slithers crossways across the top of the tongue.
Some short notes on curing
Curing Salts (Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite)
Saltpeter (sodium nitrate) is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used to cure meat for thousands of years. Nitrate preserves meat by prohibiting the growth of spoilage bacteria (especially C. botulinum) and preventing fats from going rancid.
As it turns out, nitrate isn’t the active agent in meat curing, rather its derivative, nitrite. Nitrite causes the preservative effects, as well as the appetizing reddish-pink colour and pleasing flavor that we associate with cured meat. People continued to use nitrates only until they ceased to be readily available,due to their connection with terrorism. Nitrate apparently is still used today only when a slow-cure method is needed for raw-cured products,

Curing salt  or pink curing salt is a “fast” cure that contains sodium nitrite and is known by various brand names. The pink colour ensures that users will not confuse it with any other type of salt.
If you don’t have or don’t want to use curing salt containing sodium nitrite, you can brine meats without it. Without curing salt that contains sodium nitrite, the colour of the cured meat will be grey rather than pink and the flavour is less sweet .

Who knew that I would someday end up making my very own pressed ox tongue…  If mother were still with us, I think she’d be very proud of me! - and it looks like it could well become a Casa Rosada staple

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