Since my Tongue in OC survey has only covered cow tongue so far, I jumped at the chance to include another animal: pig. I’ve been anticipating this addition to my survey for some time, though I didn’t run across a non-cow tongue dish until I had a chance to go to Mattern while my mom was at the dentist’s.
My parents have been going to Mattern since before I was born, and while we’re not exactly regulars anymore, we still stop in whenever we’re in the area. Their garlic bologna was one of the first solid foods I ate as an infant nearly 20 years ago–there’s hardly a better food than that for babies. As I developed my own tastes over the years, I settled on the bockwurst, a white veal sausage, as my personal favorite, but you really can’t miss at Mattern. Everything is delicious.
Head cheese, as it is composed of the flesh of the head, obviously includes the tongue. Mattern has 3 kinds of head cheese, all pork based: regular, with vinegar, and spicy. In all three, the pieces of meat–tongue, cheek, etc.–are suspended in the translucent aspic like a freeform mosaic, but the texture varies among the varieties. The regular head cheese is the most cartilaginous in texture, almost chewy, even, and it’s pretty mellow in flavor. The vinegar one is slightly more tender, and the aspic is more opaque with a yellowish tint to it. The vinegar flavor itself is a nice counterbalance to the soft richness of the rest of the head cheese. Finally, the spicy head cheese has various spices and an intense red color. Despite the name, I wouldn’t call this actually “spicy,” but the spices, like the vinegar, work well in the sausage overall.
In addition to the head cheeses, I also tried the blood and tongue sausage. This too is made with pork tongue, set in a beautiful red blood sausage. Here, one can distinctly taste the pork tongue. It has a richness similar to beef tongue, but less iron-y tang. Still, I love it.
For the eating part of this post, I simply buttered some rye bread and layered on a couple of slices of each sausage.