One of my very fond childhood memories was my mom’s ox tongue about twice a year! I still adore that smooth creamy texture of a well cooked ox tongue. Over the holiday season I decided to served it as a cold starter to my friends on our annual Boxing Day lunch with them.
But, before I continue, I just want to get something off my chest: We are advised to go for the cheaper cuts of meat and even the offal. However, these cuts are not that cheap anymore, somewhere someone is laughing all the way to the bank! With a price difference of a few Rands that ox tongue was nearly just as expensive as a good aged piece of fillet!
Anyway, now that I have got that off my chest on with the recipe. In South Africa duck and goose fat are virtually impossible to get hold off and if you get it, it is very expensive, so this may proof a little challenging if you are a South African and want to confit the ox tongue. Here are a few suggestions: go for a smaller tongue that won’t need that much duck fat to confit it. My alternative solution is to use about 200g of duck fat with a vegetable oil. Don’t use olive oil, the taste is too robust for the tender flavours of the tongue. The 200g of duck fat will give a lovely rich flavour to the oil and will be just a hint on the tongue. You can also prepare and cook the tongue about 2-3 days in advance, which will save you time on your day of cooking. If you like ox tongue then this recipe will delight your taste buds! The recipe is enough for 8-10 people.
For the Tongue:
- 1.2kg Ox/Beef Tongue
- 8 garlic cloves – crushed
- 2 star anise
- 4 bay leaves
- 6 cloves
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 25ml Salt
- A few Crushed Pepper Corns
- 1 Tbsp of fresh thyme
- 500ml Good Red Wine or more
- 200g Duck Fat
- 750ml Vegetable Oil
For the Beet:
- 8 large beets
- 3 Star Anis
- 3 Cardamom Pods, crushed
- 1 Cinnamon Stick (3cm)
For the Beet Sauce:
- 1 Shallot, chopped
- 10ml Butter
- 750ml Beet Water, all the spices removed
- 125ml Red Wine (I used a pinotage)
- 75ml Brandy
- 75ml Red Port
- 75ml Crème de Cassis
- 1 Sprig of Rosemary
- 15ml Balsamic Crème
- A few turns of black pepper from the mill
For the Wasabi Crème Fraîche:
- 250ml Crème Fraîche
- 15-25ml Wasabo powder (depending on how strong you want it)
- 10ml Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
- 1Tbsp chopped chives
For the Confit Leeks:
- 10-12 Baby Leeks, cut into 2.5cm spears
- 500ml of the fat used to confit the tongue
Some micro leaves, I used micro basil leaves on this occasion.
Prepare the Tongue: Two days in advanced, wash the tongue, place it in a large container with a lid, add all the flavourings. Not the duck fat and oil, that is used for the cooking process later on. Make sure your rub all the herbs and spices well into the tongue. Add the red wine and allow to marinate for about 24 hours or more in the fridge. After marinating the tongue, remove from the marinade, pat it dry and brush off all the little pieces of flavouring stuck to it. Put the tongue a heavy roasting pan (It should fit snuggly into it but with enough room around it, remember it will shrink also) and cover it with the melted duck fat and vegetable oil. Add a little salt to the oil, 6 pepper corns and 3 bay leaves. Cover and slowly cook in the oven for about 4-5 hours at 140°C. At the end of the cooking time the tongue should be soft and a knife would easily just glide into it without much effort of pushing it in. Remove from the fat, allow to cool a little and then peel the thick layer of skin off. Set aside to cool completely. On the day of serving, remove from fridge, slice and allow the slices to reach room temperature before serving.
Cook the beets: You can do this on the same day that you prepare the tongue. Wash and peel the beets, cut them in half (you want the colour and flavours to bleed into the cooking water), cover with enough water, add the spices and cook them until soft, but still firm. Don’t discard the water, keep 750ml or more of it for the sauce. Once the beets are cooled, use a melon ball maker and scoop out small little beet balls. On the day of serving the dish, you will flash fry them is the balsamic crème, set aside and allow to cool before setting on plate.
To make the beet Sauce: Start by frying the shallot in the butter until soft. Now add all the other ingredients and reduce the sauce by half. You should have about 600ml of sauce now. Strain through a fine sieve, return to the heat and reduce by another half until you have about 250-300ml of sauce left. At this stage it should be fairly thick and nearly sticky. Pour into a sauce bottle and place in fridge. On day of service remove from the fridge in the morning to allow the sauce to reach room temperature.
To make the Crème Fraîche: Place the crème fraîche in a bowl and add all the ingredients except the wasabi powder. Mix well and add 5ml of wasabi powder at a time, mix, allow to stand for the wasabi to develop, taste and if you want to add more repeat with another 5ml of wasabi powder. Don’t make it too strong, I have found that the wasabi will develop and it can be too strong a flavour then.
To make the confit leeks: I use the left over oil of the tongue for this. Cut your leeks, wash them, but don’t dry them too much, you need some of that moisture to confit them. Place them in the oil and in the oven at 140°C for about 60-90minutes. They will come out soft and nearly falling apart. Remove from the fat and allow to cool until needed.
- Place 4-5 slices of tongue on the plate in a heap.
- Place a piece of confit of leek on top of the meat and two other pieces on your plate.
- Now place 3-4 beet balls on the plate or near the leeks.
- Add a dollop of the Wasabi Crème Fraîche on the plate.
- Dress the tongue with a tablespoon of the sauce and few micro leaves.
- Serve immediately at room temperature. Enjoy with a crisp Rosé.