Seriously, this is the reaction some of my friends had when I told them what I was making this weekend. These are people who consider themselves very sophisticated eaters, game for anything. Seriously? Tongue is your line in the sand? Please—I know all of you and I KNOW you’ve had worse things in your mouth. I remember some of the trolls you used to date. Do you?
Besides, tongue is only first base. Wait'll you try my Home Run Sticky Buns.
We just got back to Seattle after a long, indulgent, much-needed vacation. It was one of those great trips where we both had enough time to recharge our batteries and regain much-needed perspective, away from the daily stresses and frenzy of our lives. I managed to hold onto that vacation glow for about four days. After that, it was back into the whirlwind of work, friends and a catering gig I’d agreed to do months ago. Jetlag, meet two days of cooking.
Our clients wanted Mexican. We did this for them last year, and it was a success. The problem is, my catering partner and I do this as a hobby thing because it’s fun. We’ve both got some restaurant experience, we’re both good home cooks, and we’ve both graduated from culinary school…but we both have day jobs. Cooking is our passion. Catering is a fun thing to do every now and then to remind us why we’re home cooks and not professionals. "Ow, my feet! What do you mean we have to do our own dishes? Get your fat ass out of my counter space". Although we have a blast trashing a kitchen and each other for two days, it really is a lot of work. If you’re not a pro and try to do this, you probably end up like we do: Enjoying yourself but spending too much of your budget on (retail) food costs, making too much quantity, and doing too many complicated, expensive dishes like you would serve at home. Guilty, guilty annnnnnd….guilty.
All that said, we did better this time and the food rocked. At least, they acted like they were thrilled, but to be fair they had asked me to make some mean margaritas and they were REALLY mean. Abusive. My margaritas were hitters, and our diners were drunk.
We still made too much. We still spent too much on it. We could probably be more efficient. But that shit was delicious.
Back to the tongue—One of my favorite recipes is Rick Bayless’ Beef Tongue and Chorizo Tacos. He cooked this dish as one of his challenges on Top Chef Masters during the street food challenge in the first season. As someone who likes the taste of tongue (too easy—just don’t) I had to try it. Tongue is delicious, beefy, and tender when braised or boiled long enough. Ok, maybe that last sentence doesn't make it sound appealing, but it is. Really, it is. I find it slightly sweet, which really goes with all of the other flavors going on in this dish. We were blown away the first time we tried it, and since then I’ve adapted it to make my version of taquitos for parties. The tortillas are run through some warm oil to soften them enough to be pliable for rolling ahead of time. Enough oil remains in them to crisp up nicely in a blasting hot oven without being deep fried (as taquitos often are). It’s a nice thing to have assembled and ready to throw in the oven before people show up. It’s also fun to let your guests eat them and discover how good they are before you tell them what’s inside.
By the way, this is the rest of our catering menu from the weekend. If any of the recipes look appealing, let me know and I’ll post them.
- Chips, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Hot Chile Salsa, Mild Jalapeño Salsa
- Beef Tongue, Potato and Chorizo Taquitos with Tomatillo Guacamole and Pickled Onions
- Roasted Pepper Sopitos with Smokey Tomato Jalapeno Sauce
- Goat Cheese-Almond Chile Rellenos with Apricot Sauce
- Tacos (2 types) - Al Pastor with Roasted Pineapple-Serrano Salsa, and Butternut squash with Greens and Vegetarian (snore) Mole
- Caesar Salad
- Mexican Rice
- Refried Black Beans with Toasted Avocado Leaves
- Tartine's Pastel de Tres Leches Cake
- Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
Enjoy, and let me know if you decide to give my tongue a ride.
Beef Tongue, Chorizo and Potato Taquitos with Tomatillo Guacamole
Adapted from Rick Bayless
Makes 25 Tacos
1 medium cow tongue, rinsed
1 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound white onions, diced
1 pound chorizo, casing removed
1.75 pounds creamy boiling potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
Queso anejo or cotija and cilantro (for garnish)
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered
2 Serrano chiles, stemmed
5 avocados, flesh scooped from skins
1 bunches cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish
1 large white onions, finely diced
1 large red onions, thinly sliced
25 4 1/2-inch corn tortillas
- Simmer tongue in salted water until tender (typically 3-4 hours), then cool, peel and clean cartilage, chop remainder into 1/4 inch cubes.
- Fry bacon until crispy, remove from pan and drain. Add onions to fat and caramelize.
- Separately, cook chorizo until cooked through and browned.
- Separately boil potatoes in salted water, drain and roughly chop into small (1/4 inch) bits. Add potatoes and chorizo to onions and cook until crusty like hash browns.
- Separately brown tongue in a little fat until crispy. Combine with potato-chorizo mixture. Season with salt.
- This filling can be made a day ahead.
- Puree tomatillos and Serranos, mix into avocados, along with cilantro and onions. Sprinkle with salt.
- Cover red onion with very cold water. Salt generously. Let stand 10 minutes and drain.
- Heat about ½ inch oil in a pan (only until warm. You don’t want it so hot it starts frying) and slide tortilla into oil until softened and bubbling slightly, about 20 seconds..
- Remove tortilla and dab one side with paper towels. Fill the dry side with some of the tongue mixture, rolling to make a cigar shape. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down.
- When all of your taquitos are assembled, place the baking sheet in a 425 degree oven until golden and crispy, about 15-20 minutes.
- Top with guacamole, onion, queso anejo or cotija and cilantro.