Getting past the ick factor: Boiled Beef Tongue – a Fearless Friday Post

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We haven’t done it for a while, but Fearless Fridays are where readers of this site share their culinary adventures. For some, it’s simply the act of preparing a meal in their home instead of hitting the drive through. For others it’s trying new foods, recipes, or techniques. It’s a chance to push against our boundaries and maybe discover new favorites. Not every attempt will be successful  but everyone is encouraged to share, if you wrote about it on your blog, post a link below. If not, just share in the comments.

How have you been fearless lately?  Tell us about it.

Bobbie says Bobbie says:

For over 25 years, my husband would, every so often, gently, and without much hope, ask if I would make beef tongue, so we could have cold tongue sandwiches, like his mom used to make. He would do this by pointing out a tongue in the store, or mentioning it was advertised on sale. I would respond, without fail, by immediately changing the subject, while trying to avoid cringing too visibly.

Now you know two things about me: 1) I’ve been married a really long time and 2) the idea of boiling a tongue really squicked me out. No, I mean really. Especially after I found out it involved peeling. A meat that you have to peel.

Well, it’d been a few years since he asked me, but eventually, it happened. My husband recently saw beef tongue on sale, in an advertisement for a butcher shop we like. And he, ever so casually, mentioned it to me. I did not say anything in reply, but did a little bit of self-talk instead. It went something like this:

You have cleaned and prepared squid, gutting it and fishing out that plastic-looking bit. For heavens’ sake, you have plucked and gutted freshly-killed chickens. You have not only changed countless diapers, but cleaned up after children who were being sick out both ends of their body. You tell people you’ll eat anything they serve as long as it’s not okra. You’ve killed rodents with a broom and a washing machine, and evicted snakes from the house. Repeatedly. You have cleaned men’s restrooms in several factories without batting an eye.* You most certainly can manage to cook and peel a tongue without fainting.

I had to admit, it was a good argument, but I didn’t completely believe me.

Still, I was determined to face my fears head-on. And? I was hoping Heather would let me use it to bring Fearless Fridays back to Home Ec 101 – so I could be all brave and determined kind of in public.

So…without telling my husband (in case I chickened out) I stopped by the butcher shop to buy the dreaded tongue, determined to cook it immediately. Unfortunately, it was frozen, so I had more time to think about it, which was…unhelpful to my determination. While it thawed, I found every reference to tongue in my cookbook collection, and armed myself with confidence. I was ready to rumble.

So, to paraphrase Zaphod Beeblebrox, “Let’s meet the meat.”**

Beef tongue in its unnatural habitat.

This was a two-pound beef tongue, shrink-wrapped and frozen. My books suggested a tongue no larger than 3 pounds. I got the impression that the larger they are, the tougher they can be. Once thawed, I slit the plastic (over the sink, in case it was messy) and removed it to a plate to pose for more pictures. There was a slit in the tongue, and I was unable to determine why. Bovine body piercing? The blue spots that look vaguely of tattoo is just an inspection stamp. They use food grade dyes for that, I’m pretty sure. 

hard core cow


Looking the tongue over, the red parts looked surprisingly like…beef. Go figure.

Then there were the not-red bits. Which looked like…a tongue. And felt rough, kind of like the wet sandpaperiness of a cat’s tongue, raised to the power of cow. I had to stop thinking about it at that point.

I’d found instructions that said to scrub the tongue with a brush, and to soak it in cold water for a couple hours, but it looked really clean and not bloody at all, so I merely rinsed it really well before it went into the pan.


Various seasonings were suggested by each source, from simple salt & pepper to an entire melange of aromatic vegetables and herbs. I opted for some of my basics for meat cookery. Onion, bay leaves, salt & peppercorns. I wanted to use white wine vinegar, but it was out, so I subbed some of the vinegar from a jar of pepperoncini, and threw in some of the pepperoncini as well. I added water to cover, and set it over high heat to bring it to a boil. It hadn’t quite reached the boiling point when the tongue was sticking up out of the water, and there was no room to add more. So, I switched to my stock pot, which I kind of knew I should’ve been using in the first place, but didn’t want to really wash the huge thing. So, instead I ended up having to wash it AND the deep skillet I shouldn’t have tried to use in the first place. Yep. *facepalm*

Anyway…brought it to a boil, reduced to simmer, and loosely covered…opinions varied on how long to cook it, so I was really unsure about this part. After about 3 1/2 hours, it seemed to be “tender enough” – which I determined by cutting into it with a sharp knife in the thickest part. Time to remove it to a plate to cool.

can a tongue stick its tongue out at you?

The tongue had stiffened up quite a lot, and the rough skin felt even rougher. Once it was cool enough to handle, I used my sharpest small knife to slit the skin on the underside. At this point, once the meat was cooked, the squick factor for me was reduced, but not entirely gone.



I’d assumed that it would peel away rather easily, but that was not the case. After it was slit, I took hold of the skin, trying to pull it off in one piece (as some sources said could be done) but it tore and only came away in small pieces. I had to use the knife to loosen more of it and keep pulling.



Once I’d pulled off all the rough skin, there still seemed to be a layer of skin on the tongue, which none of my cookbooks said anything about. It was softer, but still had tongue-like roughness. At this point I was pretty sure I’d done something wrong, but I still didn’t know what.





The remaining skin was even harder to remove – and in the end, I used my ceramic paring knife to carefully slice it away, revealing some very beefish-looking meat underneath. At last, it looked like something I could eat. Probably. Oh, and most of my sources said to cut away the roots. I didn’t know what that meant, specifically, and there didn’t seem to be anything that qualified, so I let that step go.


Once it was completely cool, I sliced it thinly to be used for cold sandwiches. And since I’d made it through the process without losing my lunch, I went ahead and made one for myself. I really wanted to use horseradish and ketchup (my favorite on cold roast beef) but the horseradish was out, just like the vinegar (time to go shopping) so I used ketchup, mild banana pepper rings, onion and lettuce, on a toasted roll.

Tastes like  chicken  roast beef.


After tasting the meat, which I liked, but the flavor was lacking, my husband and I are both pretty sure that I overcooked it. A lot. And that a good bit of the flavor ended up in the cooking water because of that. I think 2 hours is probably sufficient for a 2 pound tongue. That may have been a factor in making it harder to peel. Also, I think I let it cool too much before peeling. Next time (which will happen…..eventually) I’ll cook it about an hour per pound, and try to peel it while it’s still very very warm.

I was kind of proud of myself for getting over the squeamishness I’d so long associated with preparing tongue. There was nothing to fear, really, after all. It’s just meat from a different part of the cow, so I can handle it. But, I still won’t eat okra.



*I was a temp on a crew that cleaned the offices and restrooms of several industrial-type businesses in the city, after hours. As the fill-in person, I got restroom duty. I wish they had just let me take a firehose to some of them. Sheesh. Second-worst job I’ve ever had.

**Former president of the galaxy and quite the hoopy frood, in Douglas Adams’  The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (3rd book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Required reading for geeks.)


Bobbie Laughman is an elder caregiver and freelance writer who isn’t afraid of spiders or snakes, but will kill to avoid eating okra. Send questions, comments or offers to help hide the bodies to

Shrimp Etouffee, Dry Roux Variation

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If you’re here for the dry roux shrimp étouffée recipe, click the print friendly button below the text. You can quickly delete extra text and pictures with just a few clicks.. I’m all about saving the printer ink.

Heather says:

Recently Jo-Lynne tried out my shrimp étouffée recipe and shared her results. One of her readers, Amy Bayliss, commented that it’s far too hot in the summer to stand over the stove making roux and that in Louisiana they get around it by toasting batches of flour in the oven for a dry roux to be added at the end:

To make a dry roux you simply put 4-6 cups of flour in a dry dutch oven at 400 degrees for about one hour – or until it reaches the desired color, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Keep in mind that it will darken when liquid is added. My mama always says you leave it in there until right before it is the color you want. Then it is always just perfect!

I had never heard of dry roux and tend to agree with Amy about the heat, I thought it would be a perfect Fearless Friday experiment.

Fearless Fridays are a monthly event at Home Ec 101 where all readers are encouraged to share their kitchen experiments. The difficulty of the experiment completely depends on the skill level of the reader trying it. All I ask is that it be something new to you. A new ingredient, a new recipe, or a new skill. Have you tried anything new? Tell us about it in the comments or feel free to drop a link to your own site.

How did the experiment go? Well, let’s just say I made an assumption, dutch ovens are usually used with their lids on in the oven, so it ended up taking twice as long as it should have to make the dry roux. After an hour of stirring every fifteen minutes with little change I took the lid off and quickly began to see results.

Since it was my first time, I didn’t go extremely dark and here’s what it came up with. I put some plain white flour on the right for a comparison.

The finished dish was just as good as the original and I can see how quickly a batch of étouffée could come together now that some dry roux is in the freezer, I have enough for  three more batches. I don’t think anyone is going to complain (among those over 6, the younger set finds it too spicy for their palates. Fine. More for me).

I also liked that it didn’t take as much fat for the dish. The first version had 1/2 cup of  peanut oil, here I get by with just 1 tablespoon. The dry roux version is slightly less rich, but I skipped the optional butter at the end, because I forgot it completely.

Ingredients for Dry Roux Shrimp Étouffée:

  • 2 lbs raw large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 bell pepper – diced
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 1 stalk celery – diced
  • 3 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 TBSP bacon drippings, butter, or olive oil
  • 24 oz or 2 bottles dark beer (I use Newcastle, darker would be even better)
  • 2 cups fish or shrimp stock (I used 15oz canned, tsk tsk all you want)
  • 3 -4 bay leaves
  • 3 TBSP Creole or Cajun seasoning, divided (watch the sodium content some are higher than others)
  • 2 tsp hot pepper sauce (I’m a big fan of Louisiana Hot Sauce)
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3/4 – 1.5 cups toasted flour
  • salt to taste
  • 1 – 2 TBSP butter stirred in just before serving
  • optional green onions as garnish

Over medium low heat in the 1 TBSP fat saute the bell pepper, onion, and celery until the celery is bright green and the onions are starting to soften. Add the garlic, stir and cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes.

Add the beer, fish stock , bay leaves 2 TBSP Cajun seasoning, 2 tsp hot sauce, and 2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors develop. (This is when I peel the shrimp).

Use a ladle to scoop out some of the broth into a bowl, stir in your toasted flour and whisk until smooth. (It can be thick, but not have actual dry lumps in it.

Scrape this back into the pot and give it a good stir. This step prevents lumps of flour.

Add the shrimp, the last tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, if you like it spicy, and cook only until the shrimp are done. (3 – 5 more minutes)

Serve over rice and garnish with green onions, if you’d like.


What have you tried lately?

Submitted to Mouthwatering Monday.

Red Velvet Cake Recipe Without Red #40 for Fearless Friday

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Heather says:
Fearless Fridays are all about pushing boundaries in the kitchen. It’s trying new techniques, recipes, or ingredients. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. All of you are welcome to share your recent kitchen adventures either in the link list or by sharing in the comments. A lot of people forget that cooking is a skill that takes practice, they throw their hands in the air saying, “It’s hopeless.” Good cooks make mistakes. The difference? A good cook tries to figure out what went wrong. So on the first Friday of every month join other Home Ec readers as we try new things, even though they don’t always work out so well.

This June’s Fearless Friday had mixed results, totally delicious, but not quite what I was hoping for. My four year old has an intolerance -as in it’s not a true food allergy where we need to carry an epi pen- to Red Dye #40. I don’t know if it makes him feel unwell, but has extreme behavioral effects. So much so that family knows the threat is, if he has red dye at their homes, he gets to spend the nights. We’re all about logical consequences, no?

So, the poor kid never gets to have anything red or purple, unless I shell out for the big buck organic stuff and why bother when it’s just a treat we shouldn’t really be eating in the first place? This irks him, so I thought I’d work on finding an alternative.

I stumbled across the idea of using beets for red velvet cake recently and while I cannot find the original source where the author had great success. This recipe was moderately successful. The taste? FABULOUS? Unfortunately, the red was muted by having too much cocoa powder and the cake was too richly chocolate for the cream cheese frosting I chose, next time buttercream frosting (or heck, nothing would have been fine).

Not So Red But Oh So Velvet

It's a very deep, reddish brown, but it's plenty velvet

When I make it next week, I will eliminate the baking soda and reduce the cocoa by 1/4 cup, increasing the flour to keep the moisture constant.

Not So Red, but Oh So Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unbleached, plain flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa, Do Not Use Dutch Process it changes the pH
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup beet pureed or finely shredded (raw & peeled) I used a food processor
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs @ room temperature, beaten
  • 1 TBSP plain or Greek style yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray or line a 12 cupcake pan.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Exciting.

Why yes, it is a natural red.

In a food processor or blender puree a beet or two if they are small, you need just 3/4 cup, I firmly packed the beet puree. I rinsed and dried the food process and returned the beet puree. To this I added the vegetable oil, yogurt, and buttermilk. Once everything was mixed well, I added the eggs and pulsed, just until they were incorporated.

This batter depends entirely on a chemical reaction for height, so get these cupcakes scooped by th 1/3 cup full and into the oven.

Velvet Batter

Bake at 350F for 15 – 18 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

Velvet Cupcakes

Frost when completely cool and enjoy.

fearless-fridays You are welcome to download this image for use on your post. Right click, then save image as.

How to Use a Pasta Roller: Fearless Friday May 7, 2010

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Many thanks go to Candice of Ragamuffin Design. I’m still recovering and she was fabulous enough to step up to the plate so Fearless Friday would still happen, please be kind and give her an atta-girl or three. If you’re new here, don’t worry about all the text and pictures, the PrintFriendly feature at the end of the post makes getting rid of all the excess text & pictures easy peasy -Heather

Guest Post IconCandice says:

I remember years ago someone I know was dating a boy fresh off the boat from Italy. Ok that’s a lie, he was born in America, but his mother wasn’t and along with having a filthy mouth she used to laugh at us silly Americans for buying dry, boxed pasta. Kind of like I laugh at silly Americans for buying jarred tomato sauce -kidding. Anyway, I let that bother me for about 2 minutes because, well, I was 14 and I could not care less how my mom made my spaghetti.

Skip to present day, I’ll wait while you catch up.

A few days ago I was out on one of my typical thrifting expeditions and where I found a pasta maker for $4. It kind of grossed me out to think about using someone’s used cooking gadget, but I do own bleach. So, I soaked it for a day, scrubbed and cleaned out the nooks and there ya go, I no longer had an excuse to not try homemade pasta. BTW Heather, if you know how to clean one please let me know cause it’s a !@#$%.

In the past 5 years -during which I became a SAHM, oh gosh, don’t tell my grandmom I said that. she hates that term and wonders what is wrong with being a housewife- I realized I needed to stop being afraid to cook. I’ve always loved to bake and cook, but I never tried anything daring and in these past several years I told myself to take some chances. It’s amazing how something that seems so daunting, such as homemade pasta, can be so easy! I mean, it has TWO INGREDIENTS people. TWO! That’s one less than biscuits!

If you can get over the fact that you have to get flour on you clothes -and on your face, in your eyes, on the floor, in between the counter and the stove- and spend a few minutes playing with the dough and letting it sit some then you will realize that cooking/baking from scratch isn’t scary at all, it’s fun. Sure, seeing the time it takes, like breads, might turn you off, but most of that time you aren’t even in the kitchen. For instance, today when my pasta dough was getting some alone time under a bowl my son and I were at Riverfront park finding sharks teeth. You wouldn’t BELIEVE the size of one I found…WOW!

I’m down playing making pasta a little bit because yes, it does take some time. The first part is simple, but using the pasta maker took some getting used to. My biggest problem with it was the sticking. Flour helps obviously, but then it slipped right off the pasta maker so I had to make sure the dough stayed dry. I lost a few scraps of dough in the process, but it got easier as I went.
In the end was I glad I did it? Yes. Will I do it again? Yes. Will I still buy boxed pasta? ABSOLUTELY!

Fresh Pasta Ingredients:

  • 2 c. all purpose flour (extra for dusting and kneading)
  • 4 eggs

Fresh Pasta Instructions:

I spooned the 2 cups of flour onto my board, made a large well in the middle and cracked the 4 eggs right inside the well.

Use a fork to beat the eggs.

You are SUPPOSED to continue using the fork to incorporate the flour into the eggs, but my flour barricade broke and I had to quickly scrape the egg and keep it from spilling onto the floor. I also had to keep myself from crying because my 5 year old was laughing at me. He thought it was HILARIOUS. I used a scraper to just quickly karate chop the TWO ingredients together.

I got this recipe from Martha and she says to REMOVE ALL LOOSE DOUGH FROM THE BOARD BEFORE KNEADING. What Martha says, Martha means and she terrifies me so I did it.

On that CLEAN surface it says to lightly flour and knead the dough until smooth and elastic. It says “about 10 minutes”, but I took about 7 or 8 minutes because it seemed right. Then you let it sit under a bowl for an hour and a half (or refrigerate over night).

Go find sharks teeth…

After the hour and a half I cut the dough into quarters. I kneaded each section quickly to form a disk, floured it some more and fed it through the thickest setting on the pasta maker. You are going to fold it lengthwise into thirds. I did this 2 more times on that setting.

after the initial 3 times on the thickest setting, run each section once through the remaining finer settings. It was hard to tell on mine because it didn’t always click, but I found 3 more settings worked best. (I keep reading they have from 6-10. that’s craaazy). I also cut mine in half several times to make feeding it through easier. my favorite part? the fact that when i was turning the handle it sounded like the smoke monster on Lost…

Once the sections were thin enough and to my liking I just ran it through the fettuccine section. That part was FUN and EASY! I finished up the other 3 disks and let the pasta drape over a bowl while I made carbonara. I didn’t spend enough time with that because they stuck together so I would suggest using a cookie sheet or something.

The recipe kind of stopped at this point, but I read another recipe that said to boil for a minute. Mine seemed a little thick so I boiled it for closer to 2 and that was a mistake especially since the carbonara needed al dente pasta. It got a tad mushy, but was still delicious!!

What have you tried this month? If you’ve tried a new recipe or technique over the course of the last month, share your link below, if you’re first click the blue button, or tell us about your Fearless Friday Adventure in the comments.Remember, it’s about both the successes and the failures.

Cheese Crackers, Fearless Friday April 2, 2010

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Don’t worry, with the handy print feature, you can delete all of the pictures and chatter with no trouble at all.

Heather says:

Welcome to the first monthly installment of Fearless Friday here on Home Ec 101. What have you tried in the past month? It doesn’t matter if your experiment was a complete success or an abysmal failure, both are learning experiences and help broaden our horizons.

This month, with all of our talk about eating less processed food, I decided to try a recipe I first saw on who found it at (have you been there? Why not?) who found it at Home Cooking, but the original source is actually here at Savory Seasonings: Cheddar Goldfish Crackers. Talk about making the rounds, eh? I’m an avowed Cheez-It fan, Cheese Nips can take a hike, but since we’re trying to be a little healthier I decided to try out Emily’s recipe instead.

Holy yum.

I will note they probably don’t save a whole lot of money, but they taste as good, if not better and you know exactly what they contain. Probably the most important factor with these bits of cheesy goodness is actually the effort required, they are fun to make and this is the non-pastry chef speaking, but if I want cheese crackers and I have to make them, I’m less likely to sit in front of Big Bang Theory (my current fave via Netflix) and scarf an entire box.

What did you do for Fearless Friday? If you have your own site, feel free to use the Mr. Linky otherwise share in the comments. I can’t wait to hear what you tried.

Cheddar Crackers

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Cracker Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or 1 cup whole wheat flour (I won’t lie, I vastly prefer the white, but I can see how someone would enjoy the wheat, it’s like a cheesy wheat thin)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white ground pepper (optional)
  • 4 TBSP cold butter, cut into small pieces (if you use salted, expect saltier crackers, we like that)
  • 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 TBSP water

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Cracker Recipe Instructions

Grate the cheese, then clean out the food processor.

To the clean food processor add the flour and salt + the optional pepper if you have it. Pulse it once or twice to make sure it’s mixed. The add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture has that crumbly look. With the wheat it reminds me of brown sugar.

Cheddar Cheese Cracker DoughAdd the grated cheddar (Here’s where I admit to being distracted and performing the steps out of order, we survived – this is why the pics bounce between the wheat and the white).

Cheddar Cheese Dough CrumbsAnd pulse until the crumbly look has returned.

Then add the water, 1 TBSP at a time until the dough comes together.

Take the dough out of the food processor, shape into a disc and wrap with cling wrap. Chill the dough for at least 20 minutes.

Now here, friends and neighbors is why y’all pay me the big bucks. Oh, what’s that? This is free? Oh. After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350F. Divide the dough into quarters and roll it out between sheets of waxed paper to 1/8th inch thickness. I found the dough much easier to work with in smaller amounts.

Once the dough has been rolled out, remove the top layer of wax paper and use the blunt edge of a knife, a pizza cutter, your kid’s play dough (clean!) tools or whatever floats your boat to cut the dough into fun shapes or not-so-fun shapes. It’s totally your call.

Cheddar Cheese Cracker DoughTransfer the shapes to a clean, ungreased baking sheet. I do this simply by inverting the whole sheet of wax paper over the pan and then scootching -that’s a technical term there- the crackers around until none of them are touching. Depending on your shapes you can fit 1/2 the dough on 1 full baking sheet.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, for crisper crackers you may want to go a little longer. Don’t worry, slightly doughy crackers will crisp as they cool.

Use a plastic spatula to remove the crackers from the pan, cool, and store in an air-tight container.