Finally, we made it to Beef Tongue Saturday!
Gernika, on the Basque Block in downtown Boise, serves up beef tongue every Saturday in a voluptuous, piperade base, Basque sauce with garlic bread on the side. While many Americans might snicker in regards to offal meats (which I’ve heard some refer to as “awful” meats), those same Americans are completely missing out on some of the best prepared, most tender parts of the ox.
Many other countries have rich traditions of preparing these varietals, and I have eaten my fair share being raised by a Polish-American mother who loved duck blood groat sausage, ate liver regularly and actually drank buttermilk.
Despite that, the beef tongue at Gernika is the most flavorful and tender meat I may have ever had!
Gernika’s beef tongue (in Basque the word tongue is mingaina) is incredibly prepared in a robust and delicious tomato and red pepper sauce that includes “a touch” garlic or maybe more (according to the menu). This rich sauce comes served in a bowl with sliced bread on the side. We didn’t use knives. We gobbled it all right up with our forks and used our bread to savor all of the flavors on our own tongues. The tongue itself was breaded, and reminded me most of Italian style veal, however it was just so much more tender than anything else I’ve ever had, and has a spice that added the perfect kick.
There are two common ways to deal with ox tongue: boiling and pickling. According to the Larousse Gastronomique you prepare tongue first by soaking it in cold water for 12 hours, changing the water 2 or 3 times. You then must dip it in boiling water, remove the fat, skin the tongue, and then leave it in salt for 24 hours.
While I am always on the prowl for making my own dishes at home (Jeff May, Gernika’s owner, even asked how my mole sauce recipes were going), I am so happy to enjoy beef tongue at Gernika rather than recreate this recipe myself. As he and I agreed, what matters is that it is delicious. And my God, beef tongue is delicious.