Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lamb Tongue Confit with Lentils and Gremolata

After posting about my lamb tongue confit last week, the reaction I received ranged from intrigue to disgust.  This post is more for those who were curious as to how I would serve the lamb tongues, although I hope that it just may win over a few of you horrified readers as well.  An under-appreciated (at least when it comes to the culinary world) organ like tongue deserves a similarly under-appreciated accompaniment, so I served it over a humble bowl of lentils.  In order to brighten up both the flavor and the color of this heavy, brown dish, I topped each bowl with a spoonful of gremolata.  The one rule to follow with lamb tongue no matter how you serve it is to disguise it by slicing it thinly.  The meat is delicious—distinctively lamby and not too far off from lamb shank—and has surprisingly appetizing texture, but no one really want to be confronted with a shimmering tongue on a plate.  So whether you tell them about the mystery meat or not, do your guests a favor and slice it thin.  That way, few will complain when you slip them a little tongue. 

Lamb Tongue Confit with Lentils and Gremolata
Serves 4

For the lentils:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup French lentils
For the gremolata:
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  1. To make the lentils, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, approximately 10 minutes.  Season the vegetables with salt and pepper as they cook. 
  2. Add the tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf to the pan.  Stir to coat all of the vegetables with the tomato paste and let the mixture cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour the water into the pan and bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in the lentils and let the mixture return to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. 
  5. Partially cover the pan and cook until the lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes.  Taste the lentils for salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat.
  6. As the lentils cook, make the gremolata by combining the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  7. Heat the lamb tongues (a minute or two in the microwave works fine) and slice them thinly.
  8. Serve the lentils in individual bowls, topped with slices of lamb tongue and a spoonful of the gremolata.  

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