Beef Tongue in Tomatillo Sauce
This is one of the best dishes served at the Maxwell Street market in Chicago.
Yield: serves 6
- 1 medium beef tongue, 2 1/2-3 1/2 lbs.
- 2 small white onions, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1⁄2 tsp. dried marjoram
- 1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
- 12 medium tomatillos, husked and washed
- 3 fresh jalapeño or 2 fresh serrano chiles, stemmed
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. manteca (lard)
- 1 medium bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- Put tongue in a large pot and cover with cold salted water. Add half of the onions and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skim off any foam, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add bay leaves, marjoram, and thyme. Cover and simmer until tongue is tender when pierced with a skewer; this may take 2 1⁄2-4 hours, depending on weight and thickness of tongue.
- Transfer tongue to a cutting board. Skim fat from broth, then reserve 2 cups of the broth. While tongue is still warm, peel off skin, remove any bones from thick end, and trim off fatty section along sides and bottom. Slice meat crosswise into 1⁄2''-thick pieces and set aside.
- Preheat broiler and set rack about 4'' from the heat. Broil tomatillos and chiles, turning once, on a baking sheet until soft, blackened, and blistered, about 5 minutes per side. Put tomatillos, chiles, and any caramelized juices in a blender and blend to a smooth purée.
- Reduce oven heat to 350°. Melt lard in a large cazuela or saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining onions and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add remaining garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomatillo purée and cook, stirring often, until thick and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Stir in the 2 cups of reserved broth and half the cilantro. Continue cooking, stirring often, until sauce is thick enough to coat the spoon, 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Remove from heat.
- Arrange tongue in the cazuela or a baking dish. Spoon sauce over tongue, then cover and bake until heated through and bubbling, 20-30 minutes. Uncover, garnish with the remaining cilantro, and serve with warm corn tortillas, if you like.