Ox tongue and beetroot with ramsons and horseradish

Ox tongue and beetroot with ramsons and horseradish
It’s all too easy to turn one’s nose up and something like ox tongue but, as I’ve discussed in the adjacent column, if you’ve decided to eat well-reared and slaughtered meat you might as well go for all the bits of the animal; particularly when it tastes as good as this.
You can buy pressed tongue from all good butchers but, if you wanted to do it yourself, it’s easy enough and so cheap with enough meat to feed a family of four . It just needs a little forethought. Take one salted ox tongue and soak it overnight in plenty of cold water. Drain, place in a large pan, cover with cold water while adding a few peppercorns and something like a couple of carrots, sticks of celery and a bay leaf. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 to 2½ hours until tender. Remove from the water and allow to cool a little before peeling off the skin and chilling well before slicing.
As for the ramsons (wild garlic), along with asparagus it’s one of my favourite seasonal vegetables of the moment and I love it because it’s free. Found in moist wooded areas, it’s recognisable by the garlic smell in the air and when the leaves are crushed between your fingers.
Serves two as a starter or light lunch
A few slices of ox tongue
One whole uncooked beetroot
Horseradish sauce
The zest of half a lemon
A large pinch of smoked paprika
Extra virgin rapeseed (or olive) oil
A handful of wild garlic (ramsons) leaves
A couple of walnuts or two or three hazelnuts
A few salad leaves of your choice
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Wash the beetroot but don’t cut off the stalk, just trim back a little with scissors. Piercing or cutting into beetroot before cooking dilutes the flavour. Place in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until it can be easily pierced with a skewer or pointed knife. Drain and allow to cool enough to handle.
To peel, you can use a potato peeler or sharp knife but the slices have a propensity to end up in the shape of a 50 pence piece. We use an old tea towel to rub the skins off but it will turn the towel pink.
To prepare the wild garlic, bring a large pan of water to the boil, blanch the leaves in it for a few seconds (this kills any germs or bugs) and then quickly drain and plunge into iced or very cold water. Drain well. Place in a blender, add the nuts, a little salt and black pepper and blend, adding enough oil to make a slushy sauce.
Place a teaspoon of horseradish sauce, the lemon zest and paprika in a small jar, add a little rapeseed oil and shake until well blended.
Place slices of ox tongue and beetroot on the plate along with the salad leaves. Spoon over then spoon over the horseradish and ramsons dressings.
June 2011

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