BIG FAT WARNING: If you are a person that either A) doesn’t like the idea of eating animals or B) likes the idea of eating animals as long as you can’t identify the parts of the animal you are eating, then this is NOT the post for you. You might as well take today off from Macheesmo or click on a random recipe or something.
Whatever you do though, if you don’t like beef tongue, don’t go check out The Food in My Beard because Dan is also making beef tongue today. What’re the chances?!
Because this post is about cooking and eating beef tongue. That means that, yes, there are photos of beef tongue and it looks like a tongue. There’s no two ways about it. That may gross you out, but at the end of the day, I’m a pretty firm believer that if you’re going to be a carnivore, be a carnivore. And this is your chance to check out a really delicious cut that is completely overlooked in American households.
So let’s make some lengua!
Yield: Makes 12-15 tacos.
For the boil:
1 onion, quartered
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
A handful of cilantro sprigs
2 bay leaves
4 dried chipotle peppers (optional but awesome)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 Tablespoons neutral oil, like canola
1 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
Other stuff you might want:
2 avocados, sliced
Green tomatillo salsa
1) Add tongue along with other simmering ingredients to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 4 hours. Cool for an hour or so in the liquid until the tongue is cool enough to handle.
2) Slice off the tough under-portion of the tongue and also peel off the outer layer of tough skin. Dice the meat into small, even cubes.
3) If you aren't making tacos immediately, store in a bowl and cover with liquid from the boiling.
4) When you're ready to make tacos, add the veggies for second cooking to a large pan with oil over medium heat. Cook until the veggies are soft. Add meat, spices, and about 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid or water. Simmer until the sauce is thick and everything is hot, about 15 minutes.
5) Serve with assorted taco toppings!
Boiling the Lengua
Do me a favor and stick your fingers in your mouth quickly and squeeze your tongue. It’s soft right? But it’s also a muscle. You can flex it right?
Turns out that beef tongue isn’t much different than human tongue – it’s a muscle. Other beef muscles we eat include most steaks that you find at the supermarket so this isn’t that odd of a job.
The problem is though that it’s a bit tougher than some other cuts so we need to start the cooking process by boiling it for quite a while to soften it up.
Are you ready for it? Here’s the tongue.
Add all your boiling ingredients into a large pot along with the tongue. Cover this all with water and bring it to a simmer. Simmer it covered for about 4 hours.
And yep. That’s a tongue.
After it simmers for a few hours, cool the tongue down for an hour or so so you can easily handle it. Leave it in the liquid while it cools so it doesn’t dry out.
So there are a few parts of the tongue that aren’t really edible (unless you’re in a bind!). The first thing is the strong muscle at the bottom of the tongue. It’s really tough no matter how long you boil it. So once the tongue is cool, just slice it off and discard it. You’ll be able to easily tell what the rough part of the tongue is.
The second part of the tongue that’s inedible is actually the skin on the tongue. It’s really thick and almost like a hide. So slice down one side of the tongue and peel off the skin. It’ll come off really easily. Discard that as well.
Then dice up your tongue into fairly thin slices. It still looks like a tongue.
One thing you’ll note right away is how incredibly tender the meat is. It almost falls apart. You can of course eat it at this stage (Fry a few slices in butter and make a tongue sandwich with some mustard that’ll rock your world).
But for tacos, continue to chop up the slices until you have fairly small cubes.
Storing the tongue
If you aren’t making tacos the same day you’re cooking the tongue you’ll need to store the tongue overnight. The best way to do this is to just barely cover the meat with the boiling liquid, cover the bowl, and stick it in the fridge until you need it!
It’ll keep fine for a few days like that.
Simmering the meat
If you want to make the tacos right away you definitely can. Just dice up some basic veggies to give the meat a bit more flavor. I used some onion, red peppers, and tomatoes.
I also wanted to add some nice spicy flavors to the meat so I added a good amount of my homemade chili powder! The chili powder by the way is from my chili powder steak.
Add a bit of oil to the pan and add the onions, tomatoes, and peppers along with some salt and a good pinch of pepper. Cook the veggies for a few minutes until they are soft. Then add all the diced meat (drain it first if you stored it) along with the spices and about 1/2 Cup of cooking liquid from the original boil (or just water if you’ve already thrown it out).
Simmer this for 15 minutes or so until the sauce thickens a bit and the meat is hot and tender. Adjust seasonings to your liking. You might need/want more salt or pepper or even chili powder.
This is really good food though.
Making the tacos
While the meat simmers, prepare all your toppings. You can go crazy here but I stuck to some pretty standard Mexican toppings like lettuce, some radishes, limes, and Cotija cheese which is a really dry crumbly cheese almost like feta.
Then pile them high and add some cilantro and avocado if that’s your thing!
So seriously these were some of my favorite tacos just because they were so very different from many tacos you get these days. The meat was some of the most flavorful and tender that I’ve had.
If you can get passed the initial shock of eating a noticeable part of an animal (and I really hope you can) then you should give this a shot if you can find a nice piece of lengua.
Oh and if you’re a beef tongue fanatic and want some more, be sure to click over to The Food on My Beard. He’s doing beef tongue today too. What is it they say about great minds?