I can’t find the whisk. Again. In the past this would have been a problem, but I’ve learned not to react to these little provocations. Because if it weren’t the whisk, it would have been my favorite knife, or the really thin broken spatula that is essential for flipping crepes.
Things not being there when you need them, is a fact of life in this kitchen.
And being unsettled by facts is an exhausting way to go about life.
In the past, I blamed the misplacement of important kitchen tools on the staff, but I know they’re really not to blame. It’s poor leadership on my part and a lack of important kitchen tools. I repeat this over and over in my mind whenever I need to distract myself from the rage monkey screaming for my attention, when the thing that I need isn’t in the place it should be.
But we’re not here to give out about the staff. There’ll be plenty of time for that. We’re here to talk about lambs’ tongues. Let’s be honest. They’re not pretty. But with the right manipulation, they can be turned into the most delicious mystery meat you’ll ever serve.
I’ve had the dubious pleasure of messing around with them a good bit for the last few months because my butcher gave me about a hundred of them.
Have you ever seen a vac-packed bag full of lambs’ tongues? It looks like a Geiger painting. I had no idea what to do with them at first and then remembered that you can confit anything. So that’s what I did. The end result didn’t look very appetizing, unless you think a severed tongue looks delicious. So I did a bit of “research” and found out that the outer membrane has to be peeled off. I did that and it still looked like a severed tongue.
In it’s natural state, I had very little chance of feeding it to Hannah and if she wouldn’t eat it, I couldn’t very well serve it to customers.*
So, I cut it into slices, threw them in a frying pan and decided not to tell her what we were having for dinner. I put in some garlic, a splash of red wine and a ladle of lamb stock. For good measure, I put in a couple of spoons of a blueberry reduction I had used the night before to serve with a more socially acceptable lamb part. In their slender, tender, gooey reincarnation, the tongue slices looked a lot less tongue-y, if you squinted.
I heated up some horseradish mashed potatoes, also left over from the night before, flashed some asparagus in a pan and stacked them just so, the tongue on top. I drizzled the remaining sauce over the lot and sprinkled winter thyme and marjoram leaves from the herb garden to finish. It looked pretty good.
I could tell when Hannah squinted, as she took her first bite, that she knew what I was up to. We both ignored the facts in front of us for a moment like two people who share a secret that neither should know.
I tasted mine and was delighted. Surely it was safe to say the name of something so delicious.
“What do you think?”, I asked.
“It’s amazing. It’s so tender!”
I leaned in and said, “Did you know that you’re eating…”
“Stop!”, she interrupted.
“Don’t tell me. I don’t need to know.”
I bit my tongue.
She squinted at me and took another bite of the lamb’s.
Some things are best left unsaid.
*Editor’s note: No mystery meat has ever been fed to our guests, unless specifically requested.