Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lamb Tongue Confit


My curiosity tends to get the best of me when I see strange cuts of meat at the butcher.  I may be in line to buy pork chops, but if I see duck hearts behind the glass, all thoughts of pork go out the window. God help me the day I spot a bull penis.

The other day, I went to one of my favorite butcher's, Dickson's Farmstand Meats, to pick up some pretty standard fare: lamb chops, bacon, and pork shoulder.  As I was picking out my lamb chops, I noticed a small pile of what looked exactly I imagined a lamb tongue would look like.  Sure enough, the butcher confirmed that the ugly things that looked just like tongues, were indeed tongues.  I never imagined that one could even eat a lamb's tongue, so after seeing them, I had to buy them.  I purchased all seven of the tongues, which I assume must be exactly how many lambs the shop had butchered in the past few days because who else in their right mind would purchase the things?

Being from Dickson's, the lamb tongues I purchased were from local, sustainably raised lambs, which I'm going to assume hope means that my tongues had only touched wholesome things (one can only imagine what Lindsay Lohan's tongue must taste like...eek).  In other words, I had to do these tongues justice.  My first thought was to braise them which is usually the method I choose when I have no clue how else to cook something, but I wanted do something that was less familiar.  After doing some research, I found that confiting was a popular method of cooking lamb tongues.

This marked my first time confiting anything, but the method is pretty standard no matter what meat you choose to confit.  The first step is to cure the meat in a mixture of salt and herbs.  I purchased about a pound of lamb tongues and used one-and-one-third teaspoons of salt, a minced shallot, a minced garlic clove, a teaspoon of black pepper, and a teaspoon of herbs de Provence.  So long as you keep the meat to salt ratio the same, you can experiment with any combination of seasonings.  I rubbed this mixture all of the lamb tongues, covered them, and placed them in the refrigerator overnight to soak in all the good flavors.

The next day, I removed the tongues from the refrigerator, rinsed off the seasonings, and patted them dry.  I then place the tongues in a cast iron pot, covered them with olive oil, covered the pot, and placed them in a 225 degree oven.  I cooked the tongues until they were tender, which took about 3 hours.  I then let them cool enough so that I could handle them. 

Once cool enough to handle, I peeled the skin off of each tongue and cut off the core.  I have to admit that this part made me slightly squeamish as the tongues feel like...tongues.  Once I got over that, it was easy as the skin peels right away. Here is how they looked after removing the skins:

I then placed the tongues back into the oil, making sure that there was enough oil to cover them, and put them in the refrigerator for a later use.  They will keep for a couple of weeks.

Now that I have a container full of lamb tongue confit, I have a few ideas of how to use them.  In salads or over lentils or beans are my first thoughts, but what about you?  How would you serve lamb tongue confit?


  1. I hope you don't make the Significant Eater eat the lamb tongue! I'm definitely not adventuresome enough for things of this type...

  2. Ha! She abstained, so I'll have to have some friends over and tell them that it's just lamb shoulder confit :)

  3. Confit is preserved in animal fat and keeps for months. This is just marinated. Fail.

  4. To the first Anonymous:

    1) You are certainly correct. Confit is usually preserved using the animal's own fat, and it will keep longer if animal fat is used. However, olive oil can be used as a substitute and I am definitely not the first to do so. Feel free to use whatever method you would prefer.

    2) Next time you post a rude comment, I urge you not to do it anonymously, which is cowardly. Fail.

  5. Lamb tongue tacos w/ basil, poppy seeds, lemon zest, red onion and a drizzle of balsamic. I wish my butcher had items like this! - Rachel

  6. I love trying new things and this definitely looks interesting to try. I've had ox tongue before - sliced thinly, marinated and barbequed. It resulted in a chewy crunchy texture which I love (and others have said they'd abhorred...but that could be that they just didn't appreciate the 'tongue' part of the dish). I dislike pig tongue - I've only had it in a soup and it wasn't very enjoyable...almost like liver (although I don't mind liver - prepared properly that is).

    How was your tongue confit?

  7. You are a much braver soul than I; please let us know the end result!

  8. Theresa and Anonymous #3, thanks for the comments! I haven't tried the confit yet, but it's going to be for dinner tomorrow so I will let you know. I'm serving it over lentils, and I'm thinking of topping it with an acidic and herbaceous sauce of some kind.

  9. I'm a huge fan of cow tongue, but haven't ever run across lamb. The confit sounds thoroughly delicious, and I look forward to seeing what you do with it!

  10. This post really has me wanting to have some tongue right now. I'm curious though—how would one go about using precooked/prepackaged lamb's tongue? Do I heat it up all the same or...?

    Thanks for sharing your cooking experiences!

    **[You mention "duck tongues" in your post. I'm guessing it's a typo, but just thought I'd let you know.]

  11. Caj-ten, not sure if it would work with precooked tongue as the "confit" part is all based on braising the tongue in the olive oil, so if you were to do so, you'd be cooking the pre-cooked tongue twice.

    Thanks for pointing out that typo! That was a big "oops!"

  12. What's the point of salting ala confit? You have to peel the tongue to remove the membrane or skin. A traditional short cure for confit is wasted on a tongue since you'll just be discarding the part of the flesh the salt, herbs, etc. are curing. If you still want to cure it maybe just blanch the tongue enough to loosen the skin, peel it, salt it and then after a few hours or a day slow cook it.



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