What’s the matter, pig got your tongue? [Smoked Pork Tongue on the Electric Pellet Smoker]

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Dos lenguas de puerco.

I’ve mentioned in other places that the idea of eating an animal’s tongue is usually met with some, um, hesitancy by my Anglo friends, with the general exception of Jewish carnivores (though they tend to eat beef tongue rather than pork). Latinx, of course, have a rich history with this cut, and virtually any taco truck worth its sal will have lengua as a meat option. In a perfect world, I’d love to make this barbacoa style, but I’m too lazy to go to all that effort for just the bride and me (not to mention for a mere two pounds of tongue), so I’m going to smoke it instead.

Into the Instant Pot® for a quick bath.

I think one of the reasons that people are reticent to try tongue is that they don’t want to taste what the pig’s already eaten, and I get that. In fact, though, the surface of the tongue (including the rough part studded with lingual papillae) is removed in this particular preparation, though it isn’t in all recipes. One method for removing this stratum is to boil the tongue for about an hour and then use a knife to slice off the surface, but I’ve found that 40 minutes or so in a pressure cooker accomplishes the task even better (I threw in some Rancho Gordo Mexican oregano as an aromatic as well). Most of the surface could easily be peeled off by hand, and the rest I trimmed up with my Global chef’s knife.

Rubbed and ready.

When it came to a rub for the smoker, I wasn’t shooting for anything fancy; just some salt, black pepper, and pimentón de la Vera (Spanish smoked paprika, both to enhance the smokiness and because it reminds me of my beloved Galicia). I set the dial of my electric pellet smoker for “Hi Smoke” (average temp about 210°F / 100°C, though it varied by some 15°F / 8°C over the course of the cook). [For those of you who obsess over such details, the pellets I used were Traeger Grills Signature Blend pellets, made from hickory, maple, and cherry woods.]

Fresh out of the smoker.

After an hour and a half in the smoker, the internal temp registered 177.5°F / 80.8°C, which was just a shade higher than most of the recipes I’d read suggested (though a couple said 150°F / 65.5°C was where they pulled it out). Since I wasn’t planning on making tongue jerky, I removed it and gave it 25-ish minutes to rest before trying a slice.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. / 1 kg pork tongue
1 tbsp. / 17 g salt
1/2 tsp. / 1 g pimentón de la Vera
1/2 tsp. / 1 g black pepper
dash Mexican Oregano flakes (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Rinse off meat in cold water, pat dry. Place in Dutch oven or pasta pot. Cover with water and add a pinch of Mexican oregano flakes, bring to a boil on stovetop, then simmer, covered, for one hour OR cook on steaming rack in pressure cooker for 40-45 minutes on high pressure (add 1.5 cups / 350 ml water and pinch of Mexican oregano flakes for aroma). Remove meat and allow to cool, then peel tongue with chef’s knife or by hand.

While meat is cooling, turn on electric smoker to Hi Smoke setting (or 225°F / 107°C) and allow at least 15 minutes to come to temp.

Make spice rub with salt, pimentón de la Vera, and black pepper. Rub liberally into meat, making sure to get rub into any nooks.

Place on smoker for approximately 90 minutes, or until internal temp registers 175°F / 79.5°C, then remove and allow meat to rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Just had a slice, and boy, is it tender. Now all I need is a bolillo or a Kaiser roll, some mayo and either mustard or bbq sauce, maybe some of the living butter lettuce we have in the fridge, and I’ll be one happy camper… even if I’m not at Cantina Río Coves in Galicia.

Some pig!

Such a Tool

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Everything put together can be taken apart

Everything put together can be taken apart

No cook or chef I know — myself included — ever seems to have enough storage space. The recently acquired Piment d’Espelette doesn’t fit into the spice rack, the deal you got on parchment paper at Costco means you’ll be keeping it in the garage (or worse, the back seat of your car), and measuring spoons often exhibit a sock-like knack for going missing unexpectedly, particularly at a mission-critical juncture. The folks at Progressive International have more or less solved this last dilemma with four sets of measuring spoons that have mastered the art of spooning, in that they nest — and remain — together in the drawer. No more hanging spoons off a ring like a jailer’s keys. No more trying to eyeball 7.5 mL’s worth of baking soda in a 15 mL spoon.

From a design standpoint, they are elegant and really thought through. First, they have measuring bowls at both ends, one narrow for digging spices out of small-necked jars, one round and well suited to liquids. How many times have you had to wash or dry your measuring spoon because you were moving from wet to dry ingredients? Problem solved. Second, they are flat on the bottom, so they sit perfectly on the counter or stovetop, making it easy to drizzle in a little liquid from the jug of olive oil or vinegar. Third, because the stems and bowls are flush, it’s easy to scrape across the top to level off dry ingredients. Fourth, they display both metric measurements and their archaic counterparts. And finally, they lock together, keeping them beautifully compact and always at the ready in the storage drawer. As a special bonus, any spoons superfluous to your current project can remain locked together, presuming you arrange them from smallest to largest.

Measuring spoons spooning

Measuring spoons spooning

The set I have (pictured above) are made of stainless steel and snap together mechanically at the mid-section, but you can also get a snap-fit set made from plastic, and both plastic and stainless versions with embedded magnets to wed them.

Brilliant. Simple. How ever did I get along without them?

Next up for this kitchen: Progressive International has adapted the genius bit to measuring cups. Gotta get those without doubt.

[NOTE: While many of these links send you to Amazon.com, Progressive International products are available through a variety of retail channels, both brick-and-mortar and online.]

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Special kudos to iheartorganizing.blogspot.com for their photo of kitchen drawer chaos. Makes me feel like I’m right at home. And to theoatmeal.com for the first coherent explanation on why socks can’t live together in peace and harmony. [They’ve also neatly outlined the difference between mayonnaise and Miracle Whip in an R-rated strip.]