Fast Food My Way (Tongue it is!)

We eat plenty of fast food here – especially for lunch. Don’t believe me? well… take a look at the picture of one of our not unusual lunches.


  • Green salad from the garden (Pick early in the morning, wash, dry, refrigerate, ready to go in seconds) with hard boiled eggs from the hen house (hard boil, refrigerate – they will keep several days and only take seconds to chop and add to the salad)
  • Various homemade pickles: curried zucchini pickles, dilly green beans, cornichons and green tomato relish. Made last summer. 3 seconds to open each jar.
  • Sliced Beef Tongue with really good mustard. Tasty (really! don’t knock it off until you try it), easy, inexpensive. What else do you want? Prepare the tongue up to days in advance, keep it in the fridge, ready to slice at a moment’s notice for sandwiches or just for a cold cut platter with pickled veggies.
  • Sun tea: steeped in the sun in 1/2 gallon jar and rebottled in recycled glass bottle for more convenience.

Voila – that is slow food, but it is also fast food. Better: it’s real food.

The how to on cooking beef tongue (or other tongues for that matter like lamb), you may find here at DC-based The Slow Cook. Ed Bruske gives very detailed instructions on how to cook tongue and brine it first – if you want.

But really, it’s easy to cook tongue; in a nutshell, this is what you do:

In a big pot, put all the components for a court-bouillon with whatever aromatics you have on hand, add the tongue and cover with water. A court-bouillon is a broth made with aromatics to poach something in. The aromatics vary based on the seasons, what you have on hand, and what you are going to poach (fish generally requires a lighter hand than meat). For this particular batch, I had lots of thyme, some rosemary, leaf celery, pepper corn, coriander, some frozen leek greens and two stalks of stem celery. If you have onion, leeks or carrots, by all mean, add some, but the tongue will be good even if you don’t have EVERYthing. Ed brines the tongue first, and I am sure it makes the tongue even better, but it’s not necessary (I never brine).

Bring the water to a slow boil, lower to a bare simmer and simmer until the tongue is easily pierced 3 to 4 hours depending on its size. Let cool somewhat so you can handle and peel. Eat hot or cold.

We ate some in fajitas the other night, and the rest will be “fast food” for a couple of lunches. Tongue is delicious cold cut, and can also be served with a variety of sauce (especially nice with a tomato or tomatillo sauce)

How do you think we have tasty lunches and dinner most of the times? No, not by spending hours at the stove. As traditional country cooking will have it, the stove may be spending hours simmering or otherwise slow-cooking; I rarely spend a lot of continuous active cooking time on every day meals. I do however spend time doing things like growing salad, or pickling vegetables, or otherwise preserving. It’s all about planning and thinking into the next few days or the next season or next year. It’s about cooking something in bulk and re-using it in different ways throughout the week (here’s another example of what I mean, with a roast chicken providing several meals).

Sure, it can be a little hard to readjust one thinking and habits  initially, but it can become second nature with a little effort.

So there: “Tongue: the other fast food!”

3 thoughts on “Fast Food My Way (Tongue it is!)”

  • Sylvie, you know how much I love tongut. In fact, I made a batch of brine yesterday and I’m about to put a tongue in it. I just follow Fergus Henderson’s recipe. It’s the only way I know how to make it. It is incredibly delicious, like the best post roast you’ve ever tasted. And since no one else in my family will touch it, I get to have it all to myself. One tongue lasts about a week in our house.

  • Sylvie, I agree, made-ahead dishes are perfect for summer lunches and dinners. The tongue sounds delightful. I’m going to see if I can score one from our market’s grass-fed beef producer. Haven’t cooked one before (well, a little lamb tongue I have, but that was about four bites!).

    Cheers~ Brett

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