If you have a weak stomach, this post is NOT for you! 

As you may know, we order our beef in the form of an entire, pasture-fed, free-ranging cow directly from the ranch.  This allows us to have more control over the health of our meat.  We can request the cow be grass-finished instead of corn-finished (the standard store variety); I can request the cow to be “leaner” or “fatter;” I can request the time the meat hangs for aging; and I can request the type of cuts I want out of the meat.   Whether it is more or less expensive to do it this way solely depends on the type of cuts you tend to purchase from a grocery store.  If you purchase primarily ground beef, for example, then it would be more expensive, with the average ranch charging about $5.50 per pound.  If you are big prime-steak eaters like us, though, it is significantly cheaper, as, for that same per-pound price, I can also get filet mignon, ribs, every steak imaginable, every roast imaginable, bones for making stock, brisket, and more!  After ordering the cow from the ranch, the rancher hauls it to the butcher for processing.  I either pick up or have the meat delivered when it is finished a couple weeks later. 

Well, since I am limited on freezer space, and because we plan to raise dexter cattle on our farm, we decided to buy a dexter steer this time around.  It is a smaller breed of cow, standing only about 38 inches or so at the shoulder.  Perfect for an average-sized family.  I wanted to experiement a bit more this time, though, and learn to use other parts of the body in order to waste as little as possible (again, preparing for farm life).  I requested the offal, which is, essentially, the body parts typically tossed into the trash at the processors, but that could be usable.  It can include things like hooves, horns, bones, brains, and other organs.  In this case, I decided to start with the basics, so we got the leg bones, which I turned into beef stock, the heart, liver, and the tongue.  I didn’t know what I was going to do with any of it, but I got it anyway!  S, who is waaaaaay more adventurous than I, finally convinced me to cook up the tongue for lunch one day.  He said he was in the mood for beef-tongue sandwiches.

We got online and figured out how to do it.  Fortunately, the processer had already de-boned and de-veined the tongue, so we were left with a rough, taste-bud covered, hunk of …… cow tongue.

ummmm......GROSS!

We put it in a stockpot of water and simmered it for several hours.  Man did my house smell horrid!  (Though S says it was psychological, and that it really wasn’t that bad).   After simmering, the real work began.  Thankfully, S volunteered to do the really dirty work…..skinning the tongue.

Skinning the tongue.

 After skinning, S sliced into small, thin slices (the tongue is a very tough piece of meat–it is a heavily used muscle after all!)  Most of it disappeared before ever making it onto a piece of bread, though.  I think we were all eager to sample it.

Slicing into sandwich-sized slices.

There was definitely some psychological issues to deal with on my part.  I am proud to say though, that I did eat my whole sandwich.  Just for the record, the meat tasted just like any other beef I eat, just a bit chewier than usual.  Like a tough steak, I guess you could say. 

Now, I just have to figure out what to do with the heart and liver!  Dogfood, anyone?

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