Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe has blossomed into one of the country’s premier culinary destinations and last year several important new restaurants launched, one of the best being an offshoot of chef Drew Deckman’s Deckman's San José del Cabo. Called Deckman’s en El Mogor and set under the shade of a few tall pine trees at the edge of the vineyards of the Mogor Badan winery, the Georgia-raised chef is creating some of the most innovative cuisine in the valley with his daily five- and seven-course tasting menus, using what is grown at El Mogor’s farm and seafood from the coast.
On a visit last year I was presented with a version of his tiradito de lengua de res, or beef tongue tiradito. Only Deckman and Javier Placencia at Tijuana’s Misión 19 serve some version of this.
“Tongue as a cut of beef is amazing,” said Deckman. “The consistency is totally different than any other cut of the cow and it has an intense beef flavor that is sort of the 'stereotype' of what beef tastes like in my head. It’s versatile, can be cold or hot, grilled, stewed, pickled. It's also fairly inexpensive with a very high yield, making it a restaurant’s friend on that front as well."
Deckman first slow cooks the tongue in a strong broth with aromatics, epazote and chile guajillo. Then he allows it to cool then slices it like you would a carpaccio. Next, he combines the tongue with some type of shellfish, such as surf clams, pismo clams, gooseneck barnacles, sea urchin, oysters, periwinkles, abalone, or scallops.
“We cook with concepts as opposed to recipes, which allows us to get to the same end spot without being inhibited by ingredient availability,” he said. “Always with the surf and turf theme. Always with one raw, one cooked. We try to add some local green that is at its best that day, but that is pungent and sparky like arugula or watercress or a mustard green. Finish it with sea salt from San Felipe and basta! My personal favorite is with gooseneck barnacle and a citrus-Veracruz vanilla reduction."
This beef tongue tiradito has been served in some form at both the San José del Cabo and Valle de Guadalupe locations as a canapé, as a main dish, as a buffet item, as a fancy salad, and even a food festival snack in a Solo cup.
“My thing is finding typical ingredients that work together well,” said Deckman. “I’m not a molecular guy, or fancy modern technique guy. I’m an ingredient guy. So my difference can be felt in how we 'marry' ingredients. Not to mention beef tongue is a very, very common Mexican ingredient from tacos to salpicon to moles."
Deckman’s San José del Cabo is open year round, while the El Mogor location is seasonal, and opens this weekend.