Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tacos de Lengua

I've got a thing for tacos, you see.

No, not Taco Bell. Mind you, it's a fantastic inebriation stop-gap or hangover cure, but it's marginally food. A giant curved yellow tortilla chip, loose hamburger meat mixed with MSG and "tomato flavor" with bland lettuce and plastic cheese. What can you expect for a few cents at a place that's considered bargain basement by the American Tex Mex industry, I guess.

No, not that sort of taco. Not even a good Tex Mex taco. You see, I just refuse to believe Tex Mex as a genre has any business making them. Burritos? Enchiladas? Tex Mex does these well, and I love em. Tacos are just one of those things that are best done with a more Mexican flair.

Tacos should be greasy, hotter than hell fire, and full of bracing flavors. Lettuce BAD. Cilantro GOOD. Cheese BAD. Guacamole GOOD. Refried beans BAD. Raw onions or radishes GOOD.

It's just a different style, and I realize people do like Tex Mex tacos. I'm just not that guy.

I left for work today, but before I went out the door, I switched my crock pot on and dropped in a big beef tongue, and cracked open a can of chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Set those to a low braise while I went off to work. There it remained for eight hours until my wife came home to baby-sit it. I came home with groceries a while later. The beef tongue has a membrane on the outside of it, so we removed that and shredded the meat. I then chopped a few cow-horn chilis from my garden to toss in there too. Took some corn tortillas, charred them slightly on the cast iron skillet, then ladled the meat and chipotle mixture onto each tortilla. Chopped cilantro, a little onion, and sliced up a lime, and food was created.

Beef tongue is really great stuff, if you're adventurous enough to try offal. It braises like pork, which is to say that you have beautifully delicate meat that shreds easily, but the flavor is still robust and beefy like a good roast. The smoke in the chipotle and adobo pairs to that very well, and even strong flavors like cilantro and raw onion don't crowd it out. The acid in the lime cuts the greasiness a bit, which is good.

I gotta admit that I was breathing fire during this. Nose running, big smile on my face, with adobo sauce dripping off my chin. The only thing I could've used was a cerveza, or maybe a glass of cool coconut water or agave juice. As it stands I had a big bottle of water, and I drank it all.

Definitely give this one a try, especially if all you have to define a taco is what you've seen on the Late Night menu.

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