Adventures in Pickling a Cow Tongue

The finished product.

So, I’m beginning to notice a trend in my family.  We seem to like to eat weird food on special occaisions.  I’ve posted before about Justin’s special meal that he appreciates more than any hallmark card.  Then there’s a famed Nieman dish called Suet Pudding.  I’ll just let you google that one, I’ve yet to attempt it.  Although I have tasted it. 

Well, the cow tongue notion comes not from Justin’s side of the family, but mine.  As a little girl, I can remember a jar of pickled tongue being an occaisional installment in our refridgerator.  I have a very clear memory of my dad pulling that jar out at opportune moments and asking houseguests if they wanted some.  It was always amusing to watch their reactions. 

I had kind of forgotten that part of my history, up until a few weeks ago.  Dad called me up to say that he had just made a really good roast (from one our cattle, of course) and wanted to put an order in for a quarter of beef the next time we send an animal to the locker.  So, in our discussion of how to cut it up, we somehow got on the subject of cow tongue.  And it all came back to me. 

Well, I drive by our local locker at least 4 times per week when I am taking the girls to daycare.  I was pondering what to do for Dad for Father’s Day when our conversation switched on the lightbulb in my head.  I stopped in at the locker and asked what it would take to get ahold of a cow tongue.  Again, that priceless look.  I’m guessing they must not have many inquiries specifically for cow tongue. 

 “WHAT FOR?!” was the first thing out of the butcher’s mouth! 

“Father’s Day,” was my response. 

“You mean, like, a gag gift??”

“Well, no.  I mean, like, to cook and eat.”

“Oooookay.” He then proceeded behind a door for few seconds,  came back out with a rubbery looking cow tongue on the tip of his knife, slapped it down on the table, and wrapped it up for me. 

“So, how much do I owe ya?” I asked.

“$1.00.”  Transaction complete, and I was on my merry way home with the cow tongue.

After the kids were in bed, I pulled out Justin’s old pressure cooker and dusted it off.  The gods of Google had bestowed a recipe upon me.  I took a moment to metally prepare myself, unwrapped the tongue, took another moment, picked up the tongue, took another moment, trimmed some of the funny looking parts off, got over it, and washed the tongue in cold water in the sink.  I cut 6 slits in it, and put a clove garlic into each.  Into the cooker it went, along with a gallon of cider vinegar, a gallon of water, two cut up onions, and a “handful” of pickling spice.  

This was my first experience with a pressure cooker.

The tongue is in there somewhere...

I turned the heat on high, put the lid on, and waited.  And waited. And waited…………And waited some more.  Finally the pressure gauge started climbing.  When the little valve started acting like it was going to blow off, I turned off the heat and went to bed.  I was supposed to take it out after 40 minutes, but by then it was 1 AM and I could barely function.  So, I got back up and at em at 5.  I pulled the tongue out, and pulled the skin off it.  (…sh sh shiver….)

This is after cooking...I forgot to take before pics.

I was surprised at how tender it was.

I sliced it up, put it in a jar, filled it with the pickling juice, cooled it off, and put it in the fridge to wait for Father’s Day.

We had a spur of the moment get-together at our house for Father’s Day.  It turned out to be a wonderful day.  My Dad and his girlfriend, Deb, came down and brought their horses.  We went riding over the farm while Justin and the kids prepared a delicious meal of ribeyes, fried potatoes, and carrots on the grill.  We also had fresh lettuce salad from the garden and watermelon.  Grandpa Nieman, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Melissa, and Abby came over too.  Dessert consisted of one of Grandpa Nieman’s favorites, German chocolate cake and ice cream.  The kids took a dip in the kiddie pool, and it was just a perfect summer day. 

The reaction to my Dad’s unique gift was just as I remembered.  Dad eats it like candy, everyone else, not so much.  Some humour him, some taste it only with a big glass of water at hand, and others turn a little green just looking at it. 

My Dad and his cow tongue.


Happy Father's Day Grandpa!


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Marilyn Platner on June 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Ask me sometime to tel you about a cow tongue and how I mistakenly gave it to a neighbor/landlord for a Christmas gift in 2010….I somehow misread the package and had intended to give him a nice beef roast!! Needless to say my face was pretty red! And also one time how a cow tongue was a great funny white elephant gift!!

  2. One year my Dad got a couple of goats in some kind of a trade, we had no need for the goats but they were nice and fat. Since we ate whatever we raised on the farm Dad decided to butcher them and make ground meat out of them. We used it in pasta dishes and burgers, they weren’t bad unless you started thinking about what it was. When people were there to eat with us and my Mom had cooked with the goat meat my Dad never said anything about what it was until later, after the meal had settled in and someone commented on the meal. He then said it was goat meat, it was not the taste but the idea that they had eaten goat meat that bothered people. My Dad has been gone for over 21 years but I remember the fun he had with this. love your blog.

  3. I loved this! I always remember my aunts & uncles talking about eating cow tongue sandwiches, liver & onions, and pickled pigs feet. None of which sound anything close to edible, but they seemed to enjoy them. Can’t say that I would need the recipe, but thanks for sharing this story! 🙂

  4. Hi there! I am another Iowa farm wife and your newest follower! 😉 Glad that your dad enjoyed the cow tongue!

    I can remember one time going to the locker and asking for intestine. I got the same “What For?” reaction! We were making brats and sausages.

  5. My Dad loved tongue that he bought smoked I which I could do that never sure how to cook one. First time on your blog I will follow you would appreciate a follow back

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