I feel like cooking for another group of fifty while preparing my food for the next several days. I missed home cooked meals; eating quick pasta recipes for the last couple of weeks after committing myself to a more challenging kitchen just about three weeks ago. This kitchen is about three times as large as my previous kitchen escapades and there are about 25 people to feed lunch and supper on a daily basis, twice that on a Tuesday. Tuesday has become my new Friday and this has totally knocked-off my internal clock. I feel so jetlagged and miserable every Wednesday and the weekends have become extremely long; working on my own and feeling so detached from the outside world. Unfortunately, I also lost my holidays as so common in the industry.
What’s challenging about this work is the ability of the cook to recycle or reinterpret everything on the menu and make something out of the ordinary. Some recipes don’t make sense at all and of course, ingredients are quite limited. The kitchen does not carry so much in its inventory and almost everything is inexpensive. The Chef is also as relatively new as I am and he was assigned to clear-up and rejuvenate the kitchen which has been neglected for the last few years. I’ve been tasked to assist him while he focuses on a more supervisorial duty as instructed by management: in short, his bitch. There’s a third person also involved during the week, but his area of concern is salads and desserts and the overall maintenance and cleanliness of the entire kitchen.
I would usually be in my hideaway on a Wednesday morning and fast asleep in the afternoon thereafter. I’m quite exhausted throughout my ‘weekend’ and a good, satisfying and heavy home-cooked meal apt for this and for the season alleviate this very unusual switch. Weekends on weekdays just feel strange and queer after having a regular weekend for almost a year. I would have wanted it to last longer. As Fall enters, many braised dishes help warm a very tired soul. This is my favourite season as well given that there is more food choices in the supermarkets as much as there are in retail outlets.
About two weeks ago, I bought a pack of pork tongue hoping to make a very Filipino popular dish, Lengua. I tasted a tomato based Lengua from a friend’s house a few months ago and was thrown aback on how soft it tasted to the bite. I just had to have a hand on making this one. I never knew the preparation of the tongue would be as labour intensive as scrubbing a toilet inside out (a public toilet). Anyway, this almost half a day preparation pushed me back another day just to release myself from the smell and the torture of removing the top skin which, according to many, taste bitter and rancid. That extra day cleared my own tongue from what a pork tongue would have actually tasted if I had proceeded on cooking it the same day.
This Lengua is a hybrid version of the recipes I read. It has been years since I’ve tried one and I wouldn’t have any idea how it was really prepared if I hadn’t had the chance to try it again.
- Pork Tongue, boiled & cleaned
- Smoked Bacon
- Olive Oil
- Spanish Onions, minced
- Garlic minced
- Flour, for dusting
- Beef Stock
- White wine
- Tomato Puree
- Yellow Petite Potatoes, peeled
- Mushrooms, thinly chopped
- Chickpeas, canned
- Garlic, Roasted & peeled
- Shallots, Roasted
Dust the boiled and cleaned pork tongue with seasoned flour. Pan-fry until golden and set aside. On the same, pan-fry the smoked bacon until crunchy. Add more olive oil if necessary. Move on one side of the pan and add the minced garlic & onion.
Start adding the white wine, tomato puree, bayleaves, potatoes, mushrooms, and beef stock and return the tongue back into the pan. Boil to simmer and cover. Shove in a 325’C oven until the tongue becomes fork tender. Add the chickpeas at the last minute and discard the bayleaves before serving.
Garnish with roasted garlic and shallots.
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