Pickled Elk Tongue Tacos
Courtesy of Chef John McGannon, wildeats.com
We should all seek to maximize every bit of the animals we harvest. I have shared many unusual recipes over the years. Here is another great example: elk tongue, an often overlooked food source, although, many ethnic groups consider it a delicacy.
This past year I had all my hunting buddies save their deer tongues. At first they thought I was crazy, until they tasted the results. I think we might have started a tradition.
3 Elk Tongues
1 qt water
1 c Kosher salt
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 tbsp pink curing salt (optional)
1⁄4 cup pickling spice
1⁄4 tsp ground allspice
4 cloves fresh garlic
1 inch section fresh ginger, sliced thinly
1 fresh jalapeno, sliced
1 med onion, sliced
2 oz. red wine vinegar
Bring all the brine ingredients to a boil to extract flavor and dissolve the salt. Cool the pickling brine to room temperature. Add the tongues. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least four days.
Then, remove the tongues and rinse in cold water. Place them in a large pot and add cold water. Add a couple of bay leaves, a couple of stalks of celery and a large onion sliced. Slowly bring this to a simmer. Allow to simmer for three hours or until tongues are soft to the touch. They are done when you stick the meat with a fork and it freely slides off. Remove the tongues from the pot and allow to cool. When warm to the touch, slide your fingers between the tongue flesh and the outer membrane. Peel off the outer layer of the tongue like peeling an orange. This is easier to do when it’s still slightly warm.
At this point you can slice or pull the tongue (like pulled pork). It will have the consistency of corned beef with a similar taste. You can use this for an endless number of dishes, including pickled tongue hash, sandwiches, on toasted baguettes as hors d’oeuvres or one of my favorites: mini tacos.
Roasted Garlic & Jalapeno Velvet Sauce
This sauce is an egg-white version of an aioli or mayonnaise. It can be used as is or added to other dishes for extra flavor. This recipe will make about 1½ quarts of sauce. That might seem like a lot, but you will be using it on everything.
2 cups peeled garlic cloves
30 jalapenos (charred, peeled and seeded)
3 egg whites
3 cups olive oil
5 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp toasted cumin seeds, ground fine
2 tbsp kosher salt
Char the jalapenos over an open flame until the skins blister. This can be done on a grill or stovetop. Place in a bowl, cover and let stand for five minutes, then peel and deseed the jalapenos. Set them aside. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Once hot, add the garlic cloves and fry until golden brown. Remove the garlic from the oil. Add them to the roasted jalapenos. Cool the garlic oil.
Place the jalapenos, garlic, egg whites, cumin and salt into a food processor. Turn on the food processor and pour the garlic oil/lemon juice in a slow steady stream. The sauce should thicken and become smooth. Adjust the seasonings to your own taste. This sauce has a surprising sweet/acidic flavor and will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. It can be used in place of mustard, ketchup or salsa.
John McGannon is a RMEF life member, host of wild game cooking seminars at Elk Camp and owner of WildEats Enterprises.