In the interest of full disclosure, we have to admit we were just a tiny bit afraid. It’s not every day, after all, that we bring home beef tongue from the market. But once we reminded ourselves that tongue is simply another part of the animal, no different than eating beef ribs, shank, loin or brisket, our fear started to subside. It also helped that Kerry’s preparation method is incredibly simple. In fact, the most difficult part might be finding the beef tongue in the first place. Keep in mind that butchers will usually special order it for you and it’s found readily at most Hispanic markets (where it’s called lengua).
Once you bring your tongue home, be prepared for it to be bigger than you might expect. It’s likely to weigh more than 2 pounds and it may come rolled up, like ours was, or it could be quite a bit longer if stretched out. Tongue is a fairly fatty piece of meat and it’s covered in a thin layer of skin, but you don’t have to deal with any of this while the meat is still raw. Most of the fat cooks off and the skin easily slides off with the help of a knife after the meat has cooked.
Kerry simmers the tongue for several hours with onion, shallot, garlic, jalapeno, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. You can also cook it all day in a Crock Pot with a little bit of liquid or braise it in the oven like a roast. We went for a faster method and put ours in a pressure cooker for just over an hour. As the tongue cooks, your kitchen will be filled with the same rich, savory and appetizing aroma that any other cut of beef gives off. While it’s cooking and your appetite is building, it’s a good time to think about how you’re going to serve the tongue meat. It can be eaten plain (many people recommend dipping it in mustard), pickled, or sautéed until crispy. It’s commonly used in dishes like tacos or can be mixed in with almost any kind of vegetable.
Meat from the tongue is prized for its tenderness and a rich flavor similar to pot roast or brisket. In fact, unless you told someone they were eating tongue meat, the flavor would probably lead them to assume they were eating a more common cut of beef.
So you see, there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. If you’ve ever considered eating more of a cow than just a steak, or if you’re simply looking for a bargain cut of meat, now is the perfect time to give tongue a try.
1 beef tongue
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno (optional), sliced in half or minced
Pinch of red chili flakes
1 bay leaf
Put all ingredients into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer for about 3 hours until tender. Let cool until you are able to handle. Peel off skin and slice.