Dinner finally arrives


I decided to wait for dinner till I could do it exactly the way I wanted it… which involved a strong bread, a cheap deli horseradish mustard, and all the other stuff… marinated olives and kettle eggs on the side… soft cheese and what not sort of filled the spaces..

Horseradish mustard was the right call for tongue..as was the bread..

A couple more dinners are on the agenda…. and after that, the rest get made into tacos de lingua…


So close.. dinner in an hour..


And the smoker is doing its thing… as soon as it slows, out comes the tongue..


30 minutes pass and the door is opened..


I did a lite smoke four rather than 10 hours…. now its cooling so it can be sliced and prettied up, I already know what it tastes like so I’m happy about the whole thing…

There is wasa bread on hand and I’m ready… watching the clock..

Making progress on dinner


Sometimes the mid-process of dinner is just not a pretty sight.. Even using a larger cooker, the tongue swelled and popped the cooker lid off… so it got whacked in two.

The white is what needs to peeled off once things have cooled…. it’s like shark skin or sand paper.. rough stuff… but comes off really easy..

The second photo is the tongue peeled and ready to go in the smoker, where it’s been for about two hours..

The last photos will be the pretty ones… everything trimmed and on crostini or wasa bread.. (I was pricing out smoked tongue and the supplier noted his product has a %2 fat content)

I snuck a bite pre-smoker.. it was great, and the liquid from braising the thing is an amazing beef stock… which could well become chili or something equally high value on my like list..

Some of the stock will go towards the steak and kidney project… I really can’t think of anything better to simmer the beef and kidney bits in…

About to be smoked tounge


One Beef tongue


One Beef tongue trimmed, mostly because it wouldn’t fit in my little crock pot as is


The tongue ended up in the deep fryer.. which gets used as an emergency crock pot but has better temperature controls any way…


And there it abides for a few hours in pickling spices at which point it gets peeled and smoked…the trim went into the pot as well.. waste not want not.. besides Berto likes it when he gets extras.

As a side note…

Smoked tongue runs about $15 per pound and that’s just because its not fashionable..

Beef Kidney



This is how it happens.. split the kidney, remove the bulk of the core fat, kinda cube it all to about the same size.. then soak it for a couple of hours.

I did change the water a couple of times, just to speed things up and because I was fidgeting..

The last kidney cookery event was grilling, with no soak, just trimmed sliced and onto the grill it went, which was fine.. I think soaking is cultural superstition, not a necessity.. but I have a pretty large tolerance for mineral tastes.. So I’ll give tradition a go.

I’m thinking steak and kidney pot pie.. So once the soaking is done, it all gets rolled in flour or cornstarch then browned, same with the steak, potatoes onions and all that… the pastry hasn’t been decided on yet..but that’s fine because the meat will freeze till there is a decision…

Pie dough and insomnia



Sometimes projects come under the heading “proof of concept” which is then followed by refinement, hopefully ending in the OMG factor…

In some of the empanada looking things, the filling was green chili and pork “brisket”…. the others were roasted chicken, also with green chili.. plus they both got mozzarella mixed in with everything else…

I used a dough I could bake…. because fried isn’t something I like doing and have no good answer as to why not…

The concept is better than good, the little pie crusty things hit the OMG zone from the start.. just the baking aromas were enough to fire up a weak appetite.. The taste clinched the deal… I want a dozen or so more even it it was a pain to pull off…

But I learned a few things.. mince the filling finer, so the lumpy look goes away and it doesn’t poke through the dough… And don’t think about handling that kind of dough when its over 100 degrees at 3:00 AM cause it won’t be pretty even if it is amazing in every other way..

Seriously, I can put holes in that type of dough by looking at it, and need every advantage possible.

But other than that I was happy, happy with the results.. the crust was flaky and it all worked just right together..

Once the weather cools to a point butter doesn’t melt in five minutes… I want to do some more of the little crusty things with an eye to making them beautiful and refining the process..

And now I need to defrost the beef tongue so that can be dealt with, hopefully during daylight hours so the neighbors don’t smell smoke at 3:00 AM and freak out…

Roast or bake everything..

100_8784Roasting is my go to plan for dinner in a hurry… its everybody in the pan, see ya in 45 minutes or so.. the fat in meat or poultry renders out and everything else caramelizes..

Which lets me wander off, take a nap, annoy people on face book, or stare at the oven and zone out..

Later today I need to give the ramekins a work out… egg custard is kind of a favorite thing that I never get around to making, which I excuse on account of not being a dessert guy…

There are the brisket “bones” to deal with at some point, a beef tongue to thaw, kidneys to pick up and tons of little things to do the next few days.. not to mention a pot pie extravaganza of alternative fillings..

AND hopefully take pretty photos of it all before I decide to eat everything..which is sort of a chore, since the whole omnivore, primal thing kicks in and it cares naught for photography..

Tacos de lingua and smoked tounge

100_9001I kinda bent the rules a little, but sort of had to, tongue was cheaper than hamburger and its way over the top as far as food goodness goes…it was at one time in history a luxury item, for good reason..

However its not photography pretty.. the photo is just to show it exists and isn’t smuggled into the country in the back of a car by rogue carniceria butchers without green cards…

That particular statement still annoys me no end.. nothing like an independent businessman, undercutting inflated prices and providing better service to arouse the ire of a chain store butcher prone to gouging and price fixing…

Besides I like local artisanal butchers, chain store, industrial whack and pack has scant charm…

I just checked my zen..and I’m still annoyed.

I’ve been to Mexico quite a bit and like the street food.. whatever it is, the trick is to find a line of brown faces, which will lead without fail to the best cart or taquaria (phonetic spelling) in town..

The tourists tend to follow some guide book and want hamburger tacos on wonder bread.. or El Huevo McMuffin.. Not to mention acting in a generally cringe worthy manner.. like talking louder is a substitute for speaking just a little Spanish or worse than that, English with a fake Spanish accent… and adding an O or A to every third word..

But, the good news is, I know they won’t go into an alley or down an unpaved street..

OK I feel better now..

Nothing like a good rant yes?

Basil, rosemary and brisket bones..

100_8127Budget and dinner improvement…. Grow basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint and what-not in pots….Or potatoes, tomatoes and chilis for that matter….

I’m not good at gardening, but its still worth doing.

Heat is the biggest issue in my world and basil isn’t exactly a desert dweller.. it does fine in an air conditioned mega mart… but outside, not so great when it hits 125 or so..

I like window boxes and house plant’s, it all adds to ones life, ambiance and air quality.. while stepping up your pizza and caprese salads.. Plus having rosemary on hand for bread and general cooking utility is also kinda huge…

And its a quiet pleasurable thing… almost as good if not better than reading, it can be beautiful, a small oasis of feng shui and chi building, the scents alone are a gift that keeps on giving..

Fresh basil is expensive… but growing isn’t.. plus there’s bragging right’s if you’re into show and tell… you can do garden club horse horse trades for chilis or pester the AG department at the college for cuttings…

I was never into the social aspects of potted plants but other people go wild…

My notions of potted plants and gardening tends to be personal and an investment of care, which is probably a good thing..

But garden clubs go against my reclusive tendencies and fortress of solitude mind set…

Part two.. brisket bones..


Today I was on a brisket bone search.. and finally found some, the last pack in fact, one of the butchers said he’d been working in the trade 30 years and never heard of them… but it was a matter of trade language and once we got past that it was all good… Brisket bones are trim from making those cute little rib racks, that run $3.00 per pound… Brisket bones are $1.49 with no bones, just cartilaginous goodness.. which is the end of a full rack I always liked best… then you look at the meat to bone ratio and the deal gets better…

(I was told they were unavailable) due to mad cow disease.. umm.. dude its pork, the correct scare marketing is cholera or trichinosis..

The first butcher and I went round and round… he told me offal isn’t available, nor are pork bellies, tongue and kidney etc are equally unavailable…

Since I had two of three items in my pack…. he lost some credibility and then his mind, when I said “not so at a carniceria” and then the whole nationalist, racist thing came out..all carefully phrased and covert of course, but still irritating.. I don’t like having my chain pulled or hearing nonsense..

Spices, chilis, meat and other life essentials…

100_8981I don’t have time today to make a pickling mix or deal with a depleted pantry… I’m due to get bulk spices in about a month when they reopen the shop.. So for now its my beloved El Guapo back up spices from Bashas..

They have a lot of bulk stuff but sadly, not everything I use, still it’s good for what it is…

And it’s a project thing, so ya do what ya gotta do…..

The project is smoked beef tongue… which got justified simply because it was cheaper than hamburger.. and better than most beef cuts I can recall and its just beefy goodness.

While picking up the tongue, I spotted some briskets that were cheaper still, ($3.50 a pound) but the weight brought the price up to $40+ and it was so big it would take forever to eat the thing…

But who knows… and I drifted off track, maybe I can cut, pack and freeze it in 5 pound chunks.. except its still a years worth of indulgence.. unless the butcher can be connived into selling me a smaller piece.. or the corned beef option kicks in once my smoked brisket issue is dealt with…

Maybe a whole brisket is not a bad idea.. corned beef and cabbage is in my DNA, winter is on the way, its a good budget ‘bang for the food buck’ move, and various other self-serving, justifications.

Then I returned to reality and made a quick get away…

Things are busy enough as they are..