Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

The tongue is part of the so-called fifth quarter, meaning those butchery products, like offal, that are considered the less ‘noble’ cuts of meat.

The tongue, Francesco Sorelli explains in his book “La Toscana di Ruffino”, “is typically prepared boiled, or ‘salmistrata’ (cured for long conservation).

Less often it is stewed, although in this recipe it is thick and tasty. We stuff the cabbage leaves with the shredded tongue and some aged pecorino cheese, finely grated. As a final touch, we add the sauce in which the meat has been cooked”.

Ingredients for 4 people: cabbage, 1 calf tongue, 3 slices of cured pork fat (lardo), 4 tomatoes, onion, celery, carrot, oil, pepper, salt, juniper berries, bay leaves, cloves, aged pecorino cheese, white wine.

I wash the beef tongue and soak it in a saline solution with 50 grams of sea salt per litre for an hour. When done, I remove the skin with a small knife. In a saucepan with high edges, I brown two or three slices of ‘lardo’ with chopped onion, celery and carrot.

I cut the tomatoes into small cubes and add them, after eliminating the seeds. I put the tongue in the saucepan ​​and let it brown on each side. I add the white wine, and flavour with one bay leaf, juniper berries and cloves. I add boiling unsalted water while it’s cooking. Then I cook on a low heat for 2 hours.

Finally I add salt and pepper. I let it cook for another half an hour, then I remove the tongue from the saucepan, I blend the sauce and leave it in the pan to thicken on a high heat.

At this point it’s very easy to chop the tongue, which is well cooked and soft. In the meantime I choose the best and largest cabbage leaves and cook them in boiling water until soft. I place the leaves between two cutting boards, then I put two tablespoons of the chopped tongue on one side of the leaf and roll it. Tucking in the edges of the leaves, I make them into “cigar” shaped rolls.

Finally I spread a tablespoon of the sauce on the bottom of a plate, and place the rolls on top. I finish by adding some grated aged pecorino cheese.

Francesco Sorelli – My Tales of Tuscany