Since opening a few years ago, chef John Bates’ Noble Pig has become somewhat of an Austin, Texas, institution, developing a cult following around its delicious and creative sandwiches that use only house-made ingredients that showcase Bates’ background in fine dining. For a good idea at what their menu is like, take a look at their flagship sandwich, The Noble Pig: it’s got house-smoked ham, pulled pork, and bacon, piled up with provolone cheese. They’re also renowned for their smoked duck pastrami and gut-busting breakfast dishes like a milk biscuit with country sausage and black pepper gravy.
When we learned that Bates would be coming up to Brooklyn to add a few menu items to chef Dale Talde’s insanely popular Brooklyn bar, Pork Slope, we knew that it would be a match made in heaven (both Noble Pig and Pork Slope have been featured on these pages before). Bates’ menu included crispy croquettes of shredded pork trotter, duck cotto salami, house-made ham with mashed potatoes and red-eye gravy, and this week’s Sandwich of the Week, the smoked beef tongue sandwich with red pepper relish and aioli.
To prepare this sandwich, Bates brined the tongue for 24 hours in a corned beef brine, then braised for about four hours in the same brine. They were then cooled, peeled, and cleaned, and smoked for an hour over pecan wood before being sliced. The thick slices were seared on a griddle top to order, and topped with a relish of roasted red peppers, diced tomatoes, chopped parsley, pickled mustard seeds, red onion, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. It’s all sandwiched between two slices of a Pullman loaf that got a nice smear of garlic aioli, sliced in half, and served.
The tongue retains some of its chew, but after being braised for so long it’s exceptionally tender, and the smoke imparts a ton of flavor. The relish helps to brighten up the richness of the meat and aioli, and it’s a well-balanced, perfectly executed sandwich. If you thought you weren’t a fan of tongue, you might need to reconsider after trying this.
As for his reception in Brooklyn, Bates couldn’t be happier. "We were amazingly well-received, and [Pork Slope owners Dale Talde, John Bush, and David Massoni] provided us with all the help we needed," he said. "They gave us their house and their team, and they were very gracious, good people to work with. I couldn’t have had a better experience."
Click here for other featured sandwiches or check out the 2012 Year in Sandwiches and the Sandwich of the Week Slideshow. Know a sandwich that should be featured? Email The Daily Meal or comment below. Better yet, become a contributor and write up your favorite today!