When I was a child, growing up in northern Michigan, we would occasionally get a smoked beef tongue from the local butcher, who smoked his own. My mother would cook them in the pressure cooker, and we’d have a hot dinner of sliced tongue with horseradish and mustard, followed by cold tongue sandwiches. When hot the meat had an unusual texture– a sort of spongy toughness– but also a unique and delicious flavor.
It’s not too hard to find beef tongues raw, but smoked is another matter. I’ve made a couple of attempts in the past at smoking my own, without much success; they were edible, but neither the flavor nor color were right. I suspect both brining and smoke were inadequate, and I didn’t have any pink salt at the time, either. Next time I’ll use pink salt in a much longer brine.
In the meantime I decided to try a different approach: make smoked tongue sausage, the idea being that sausages can be finished in a couple of days instead of weeks, and require less time in the smoker in the process. So I skinned two tongues, cubed and near-froze them, ground the meat, mixed in the simple cure (no spicing other than a little white pepper), and let this sit overnight. I decided to grind the meat fine because of its texture. A bit of a guess; usually I prefer a coarser grind. Have to see how the final product comes out.
Today I stuffed into 35/38 hog casings and hot smoked them. I couldn’t wait, and had a taste as soon as they came out of the smoker. Not bad– a little salty, but the flavor seemed closer than before. Tomorrow is the real test: I plan to poach one for lunch.