Romanian "Mancare de Limba cu Masline in Sos de Rosii"... or Beef Tongue Stewed with Olives in Tomato Sauce. I know this post might not appeal to some. I mean, seriously, beef tongue?! But if you think about it, it's not that strange of a dish. You see, the tongue happens to be a muscle... just like beef tenderloin is a muscle:). And in reality, if the tongue is cooked right, it can be just as tender as a filet mignon... and much more flavorful.
Anyway, some of you may be aware of using beef tongue to make tasty tacos... or Mexican tacos de lengua. But Romanians have a slightly different way of cooking with tongue... and that's cooking it in a tomato sauce with olives. It's the best. Especially served over creamy mashed potatoes. Well, at least I love it:)... My mom would make this dish numerous times when I was growing up... so what may sound like a strange dish to some, is actually quite familiar to me.
Because beef tongue is quite inexpensive here in Montana, the dish is also budget-friendly. I know the price of beef tongue can be quite high in other areas... especially in Hispanic communities, where tacos de lengua can be in demand. And I'm sure other nationalities use the beef tongue as well. Yet, Romanians will not only use the tongue to make this dish I am posting today, but will also use it to make piftie (aspic with meat), toba (head cheese), pateu (liverwurst) and other deli-style sort of meats.
Since I've been wanting to add more Romanian dishes on this site, I decided to cook this beef tongue dish as a memory of my early growing up years. At the same time, I ended up reserving some of the tongue meat to make another dish... coming soon:). But the weight measurements I've posted below reflect what I used for this particular recipe. If you have a larger amount of beef tongue(say an extra 1/2lb) you can use the whole amount... it really won't matter much, as you'll just have extra meat with the sauce. Hope you enjoy...
Note: I'm not sure if my mom used garlic in her recipe... but I decided to add some to mine... opt to skip if you like.
For a gluten-free dish use a GF thickener... instead of the flour slurry.
You will need:
Cooking the Beef Tongue and Stock:
2 lbs beef tongue
2 medium carrots
2 stalks of celery
1-2 garlic cloves
1 TBS kosher salt, or to taste
8-12 cups water*
* I would probably use a bit less water (8 cups), but you want the tongue to be covered in water. I wanted some extra stock to freeze, so I used 12 cups. Less water will yield a more flavorful stock.... which yields a more flavorful sauce/dish in the end.
Cooking Tongue in Sauce:
1 1/2 lb cooked tongue, sliced and cut in pieces
4 TBS oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
3-4 TBS tomato paste( I used 4)
2 TBS flour
3 cups beef tongue stock( can substitute with some wine, if desired)
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 -3 bay leaves
2 tsps fresh thyme(or cimbru), to taste and optional
1 cup olives( I used pitted kalamata)
1 tsp peppercorns, optional
Thicken sauce if needed only:
with a bit of flour/water slurry*
*can use a gluten-free thickener for GF dish
freshly ground pepper
salt to taste
squeeze of lemon juice
fresh parsley(or chives), chopped
mashed potatoes(my favorite), pasta, crusty bread, rice, couscous, quinoa, etc
1. Wash beef tongue well. Place in pressure cooker pot( or regular pot) and add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt and water to cover.
2. Cover pressure cooker pot and heat on high and bring to pressure. Lower heat and cook for about 30-40 minutes. Release pressure and check beef tongue to see if it is cooked... and if you can peel the skin off. You can also cook the tongue in a regular pot... it just might take a bit longer to cook.... more like 1 1/2-2 hours or so. Peel skin off tongue...
You will need to peel the skin off the tongue while it is still hot. You may need to use a knife to cut some of the skin, but for the most part the skin should release quite well... that is, if the tongue has cooked sufficiently.
3. Strain stock.
4. Cut tongue 1/2 inch slices( or whatever thickness you desire)... and the slices in half yet again, if desired. Set aside.
1. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and lower heat a bit (medium/low). Cook onion until real soft, stirring every so often for about 15 minutes or so.... you can sprinkle a bit of salt in this step if you like.
2. In a medium/large measuring cup, add tomato paste, flour and 1 cup beef tongue stock... you can add the thyme(or cimbru , if using). Stir to combine.
3. Remove skillet from heat for a bit and add tomato paste mixture to the cooked onion. Stir to combine, then add the rest of the stock( about 2 cups). You can substitute some of the stock with a bit of wine, if desired.
4. Add sliced beef tongue, olives, sliced garlic, and bay leaves.... add peppercorns, if using. Mix to combine. Increase heat and bring sauce to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer.
5. Simmer sauce for 25-30 minutes... check sauce every so often and stir, making sure nothing sticks on the bottom while it is cooking.
6. Season sauce with salt and pepper as needed... and thicken sauce if you feel it is needed with a bit of flour and water mixture.
7. At the end, "freshen" up the dish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of fresh parsley, or chives.