I get a lot of emails from deer hunters asking about sure-fire ways to use more of the deer they bring home, especially the offal: heart, liver, kidneys, tongue, etc. I love getting these notes, because it tells me that people are getting a little more adventurous with their wild game cooking. This recipe is one of my favorite “guts” dishes.
It’s a nice little salad that uses the tongue seamlessly: Unless told, your friends will probably not recognize it. To get there, you slowly braise the tongue until its tender, then peel it and slice it thin. I prefer to use venison, wild boar or lamb tongues here because they are smaller and much more dainty than beef tongues — if tongue can in any way be dainty.
There are two ways to cook the tongue. If you happen to have a water oven like the SousVide Supreme or some other immersion circulator, vacuum-seal the tongue with some olive oil and the herbs and spices listed below and cook at 150°F for 24 hours. Admittedly, most people don’t have a sous vide machine, so the regular instructions are below.
It is important that the salad be as interesting as possible, so use lots of different greens if you can.
Braised Venison Tongue with Mixed Greens
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
- 2 deer or lamb tongues (pork tongue will work, too)
- 1 quart lamb, venison or beef broth
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cups salad greens (use exciting greens like arugula, Italian chicories, fresh herbs, watercress, dandelion leaves, mache and the like.)
- Fresh ground black pepper
- In a medium pot set over medium-high heat, bring the broth, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, drop in the tongues and simmer for at least 3 hours. The tongue should give willingly to the point of a sharp knife. If the tongue floats, flip it periodically. Remove from heat.
- While the tongues are still warm, transfer them to a cutting surface and peel it with your fingers or a paring knife. The skin is really the only icky thing about tongue: underneath it is pure meat. Slice the peeled tongue thinly and return it to the broth to rest. Turn the heat off the broth and cover.
- To prepare the dressing, place the garlic, remaining salt, vinegar and mustard in a food processor or blender. Puree briefly. Then, with the motor running, remove the cap from the center of the blender and drizzle in the olive oil. Buzz this 30 more seconds and move the dressing to something pourable.
- Mix the greens in a large bowl and tear them into smallish pieces you can eat with a fork. Toss in a few tablespoons of dressing, just enough to coat. Divide the greens evenly on four plates.
- Remove the tongue slices from the broth and toss with some more dressing. (if you have extra dressing, save it for another use) Arrange a few slices of tongue atop each of the plated greens, grind pepper over it and serve.