Beef Tongue is a cut of beef many people aren’t willing to try, but when they do, they are amazed at how flavorful and tender it is.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase beef tongue?
Do you think of a cut of beef that you want to cook and eat? Or, does it make you squeamish?
Whenever we sell a quarter, half or whole beef, we ask customers if they want any of the offal or “one-per-cow parts” like cow tongue, heart, liver or kidney. Many say “yes” and then they quickly ask, “but how do you cook it?” We like to answer this question with firsthand experience. That’s where this recipe comes in.
There are some very popular dishes featuring cow tongue like pickled beef tongue and Beef Tacos de Lengua. With Lengua tacos, the meat is either cooked down into tender shreds or coarsely chopped before being thrown into a tortilla. When it’s cooked, you get a piece of meat that has a rich beefy flavor, buttery texture.
How to cook beef tongue
The most important thing to keep in mind when cooking cow tongue is that it’s a well-used muscle. As we’ve discussed in other post about cuts of beef, well-used muscles on beef cattle are initially tough but they’re very flavorful.
With tongue (and other cuts from well-used muscles, like brisket), you have to cook them for a long time over low heat for it to become tender. When you do, you will get melt-in-your-mouth beef that is extremely tasty.
Where to purchase
If you purchase a quarter or half beef from our farm you’ll get the option of the tongue. Since there’s only one tongue on every cow, it’s first-come-first serve with others you’re cow-pooling with. If you order a whole beef, you’ll get the tongue unless you specifically say you don’t want it.
If you’re outside of the St. Louis area and can’t order from us, it’s commonly found at local butcher shops or Mexican grocery stores.
What does raw cow tongue look like?
The skin color of a cow’s tongue is based upon a cow’s breed. Angus cattle have black tongues. We’re an Angus-based farm, so our cattle have black tongues.
Comparatively, Holstein cattle (dairy cattle) possess a gene that causes white patches in the coat and pink colored tongues.
When preparing tongue, you’ll eat the tongue meat, which is the meat underneath the skin and taste buds. To get to the tongue meat, you’ll simmer the tongue with spices for 3-4 hours. Then, you can easily peel off the skin. It’s a tough skin, and peeling it is somewhat similar to peeling an orange.
There’s also a rough patch of meat where the tongue connects to the mouth. This part of the tongue has a different texture, so we remove it too after cooking the meat. However, it is edible.
You can keep cooked leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. You can use them cold on a sandwich or salad, if desired.
Cow tongue has is chalk-full of protein, as well as zinc, iron, and vitamin B12.
Believe it or not, beef tongue tastes similar to other cuts of beef. It has a milder flavor and is a fattier cut of meat.
Beef Tongue Tacos (Beef Tacos de Lengua)
- 1 Beef Tongue
- 1 Onion, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3 Tbsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Black Peppercorn
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper, stemmed (optional)
- 2-3 Bay Leaves
- Corn Tortillas
- Onion, chopped
- Place beef tongue in a large stock pot. Add onions, garlic, salt, peppercorn, bay leaves and jalapeno pepper. Cover with water. Bring to boil. Then, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 4 hours until tongue is tender
- Remove beef tongue from water and allow to cool
- Peel off the tough outer skin using your fingers or a small sharp knife.
- Remove patch of meat where tongue would connect to mouth.
- Slice tongue (approximately 1/4 inch slices)
- Heat vegetable oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Saute the tongue slices until they are lightly browned on both sides.
- Remove from skillet, and dice beef into small cubes. Alternatively, you can shred the beef using two forks.
- Make the tacos by placing a large spoonful of beef in each corn tortilla. Add other desired toppings like avocado, onion and cilantro.
Other Offal Recipes
- Pickled Beef Tongue
- Homemade Beef Bone Broth (crock pot)
- 4-Ingredient Beef Bone Broth (stove top)
- Oxtail Stew
- Liver & Onions (two variations)
- How to Eat Liver (Even if you hate it)
Kitchen Products We Love
One More Thing!
Do you want to learn more about beef? Join our weekly e-newsletter where we share farm happenings, recipes and beef availability. Sign-up and get a cheat sheet with 9-must-ask questions before buying beef directly from a farmer. Or, we have an entire ebook about beef that goes through purchasing and preparing beef from a cattle farmers perspective.
Here are a few other links you may like:
- What everybody ought to know about beef cuts
- Buying a Cow. How Much Beef Is It?
- 7 Steps to Grilling a Steak to Perfection
- What Do Cows Eat
- Easy Beef Brisket Recipe (oven-roasted)
- The Best Farm Books for Kids
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