Ox Tongue (Lengua) in Mushroom Sauce
Ox tongue in mushroom sauce served with mashed potatoes topped with browned onion bits. It really sounds continental but, believe it or not, most Filipino cookbooks include a version of this dish. My father had his own version too. This is mine. Because of its price in the Philippines, ox tongue is served mostly in expensive restaurants and hotels. When served with mushroom sauce, a few slices are arranged on the dinner plate and served with a scoop or two of mashed potatoes. Neither is it a dish commonly served at home because of the extensive cooking time it requires. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it…
First of all, you don’t have to do everything all the same time. The mashed potatoes, for instance, can be prepared hours earlier and kept in the fridge. While simmering the ox tongue, do other things… read, go online, watch TV, sleep, do the laundry, clean the house… four hours is a long time. No reason to just sit and wait for the meat to cook. When I cook this dish, I prepare the mashed potatoes and cook the tongue in the morning. Then, I cool the tongue on a plate, remove the skin, cover it with cling wrap and let it sit in the fridge until it’s time to prepare dinner. The cooler the tongue, the easier it is to slice. If you slice it while still warm, the meat will disintegrate and your cooked dish will look terrible. Besides, you can’t brown the sliced tongue in butter unless it is cold and firm.
As to the mashed potatoes, the idea of mixing in the skin was something I picked up over a luncheon buffet at a local steak restaurant. I figured, why not? Aren’t most of the nutrients of the potato supposed to be in the skin? I had to sound off my kids first, though. When the said sure!, I went ahead.
Now we go to the browned onion bits… what’s the idea? Well, bacon bits on mashed potatoes just means adding something salty to it. But sweet onion bits over suffiently salted mashed potatoes is something else. To achieve this blend, it is important to use white onions. Red onions won’t do the trick. It is the delicate sweetness of white onions that is just perfect for this recipe. It is likewise important to add sufficient salt to the mashed potatoes.
- 1 ox tongue (about 1.1 kilos)
- 2 tbsp. of vinegar
- 1 whole garlic
- 1 whole onion
- 6 peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ carrot
- a few stalks of leek
- 1 can condensed mushroom soup
- ¼ c. + 2 tbsp. of butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ k. of potatoes
- ½ c. of milk
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. of finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 button mushrooms, chopped
- Scrape the ox tongue with a knife. Rinse well under running water. Place in a glass bowl and cover with water. Add 2 tbsp. of vinegar. With your hands, “wash” the tongue in the warer-vinegar solution. Rinse well. Place the ox tongue in a casserole and cover with water. Pierce garlic in several places with a sharp pointed knife. Add garlic, onion, carrot, leeks, peppercorns and bay leaf to the tongue. Set over medium heat and bring to a soft boil, removing scum as it rises. Lower heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 4 hours.
- While simmering the meat, prepare the mashed potatoes. Using a brush, scrub the potatoes under the tap, making sure that no soil remains. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Add 1 tsp. of salt. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer until tender. To test for doneness, insert a pointed knife at the thickest part of the potatoes. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a glass bowl. Cut the potatoes into small pieces. Mash with a fork (I did not remove the skin). Add 2 tbsp. of butter and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in ½ c. of milk in a thin stream. Blend well. Stir in the chopped parsley. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap.
- When the tongue is tender, transfer it to a plate and cool completely. Remove the skin and slice crosswise into ¼? thick slices. Set aside. Strain the broth.
- Over medium-high heat, melt 1 tbsp. of butter in a skillet. Brown the chopped onion. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
- Increase heat to high and melt the remaining butter in the skillet. Add the sliced lengua and brown them in batches, removing them as they brown and adding more butter if necessary. Saute the sliced onion in the skillet. Add the chopped mushrooms. Dilute the mushroom soup with the meat broth. Use equal parts of soup and broth for a regular sauce; reduce the amount of broth by half for a thicker sauce. Pour diluted soup into the skillet. Lower heat to medium and bring to a soft boil, stirring to make sure that no lumps remain. Return the tongue slices to the skillet and heat through.