Lengua Estofada

Twice-Cooked Ox Tongue with Sherry, Carrot and Parsley

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Lengua estofada is my favourite dish, because it brings me so much joy and satisfaction to work with what is basically a very ugly piece of meat and transform it into a succulent dish with a rich sauce of sherry and carrot. I also get great satisfaction when people tell me, ‘I don’t eat tongue’ then they go and eat a whole plate and say ‘that wasn’t tongue, that was great!’

Ingredients

  • 2 ox tongues (about 2 kg/4 lb 8 oz)
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 brown onion
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, stalks and leaves separated, leaves chopped
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
  • brown onions, extra, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 green capsicums (peppers), seeded, membrane removed and diced
  • 6 tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) fino sherry sea salt flakes, to sprinkle

Method

Soak the tongues in a large bowl of salted water overnight in the refrigerator. Drain well.

Put the tongues in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add two of the carrots, the onion, eight of the bay leaves, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, the parsley stalks and five of the cloves. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 2–3 hours until tender. The tongues are done when the skin peels off easily. Strain the stock and reserve. Discard the onion, carrots, herbs and spices.

Remove the tongues from the dish, allow to cool slightly then peel while still warm. Remove any rough pieces of connective tissue at the root of the tongue. Cut the tongues into 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) thick slices. Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3).

Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole dish over medium heat and cook the diced onion, remaining bay leaves and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the capsicum and cook for 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Dice the remaining carrots, add to the dish and cook for 15 minutes, or until browned. Add the tomato and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to high. Add the sherry, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil then add 700 ml (24 fl oz) of the tongue stock and bring to the boil. Skim the surface to remove any foamy residue and excess oil.

Add most of the chopped parsley, reserving a little for garnish. Put the remaining peppercorns and cloves in a piece of muslin (cheesecloth), tie off and add to the casserole. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the tongue slices and enough extra stock to make sure all the slices are covered. Remove from the heat and cover with the lid.

Put the casserole dish in the oven and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the cover, increase the heat to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and continue cooking for 20 minutes. The tongue is done when almost falling apart. Discard the peppercorns and cloves.

The sauce should have a light, coating consistency. If necessary, remove the tongue and reduce the sauce over medium–high heat until thickened slightly. Serve on a plate then spoon over a little sauce and sprinkle with the reserved parsley and sea salt flakes.