And now for something completely different…Offal anyone??? No, I didn’t say awful. In fact, this is pretty tasty.
Now, I know I have lost some of you just on the title telling you this is beef tongue. I have many friends who simply won’t eat this because it is beef tongue. In fact, they won’t even try it because it’s tongue. I mean, let’s be real people don’t really eat animal tongue, do they? You betcha they do and done right it’s downright delicious. One of Knothead’s favorite meals is his mama’s lengua, which really is good. I have been making beef tongue since I started my foray into professional cooking some 40 years ago in a little bistro style restaurant. We had a specialty of beef tongue with almonds and grapes in a brandy sauce. It was quite tasty, indeed. It was tender, tasted very much like roast beef, sliced beautifully and was perfectly complimented by the sauce with grapes and almonds. Truly, an epicurean delight. Sadly, very few of my friends would try it much less eat it. So, I didn’t fix it very often. Then, years later, I made it for the kids. Let me tell you, THAT was a fiasco with 4 hungry children and their mother mad at me that I would dare serve them something like tongue. Blech!! Sheesh! I might as well have served them brain or even testicles. Oh well, I very happily ate it for dinner by myself and made sandwiches for lunch with the rest. They went to McDonalds and had mystery meat. 😮 Having learned my lesson, I never served it to them again. So, it was many, many years until I ate tongue again. 😦
Ultimately, I met, fell madly in love with and married the Baby Lady. It’s still the happiest day of my life. We wound up with the Knothead who was a rather finicky eater but he does love Mexican food. That’s when Baby Lady started making lengua. It’s full of flavor and melt in your mouth tender. It makes great tacos or burritos and is simply wonderful stuff. Daniel fell in love with Baby Ladys’ lengua (and Baby Lady, too as he asked her to adopt him just before being stationed in Portland, Me. and she did). Finally, I found someone who enjoyed beef tongue and she doesn’t generally eat beef. No wonder I fell head over heels in love with her. Baby Lady, however, is a crockpot girl and I prefer stovetop and oven braising over crockpot stewing. It’s just a personal preference and one of our myriad of differences. It’s why we cook different dishes and the same dish differently. Nevertheless, Daniel grew up and left home and Quickstep finally got his own place. All of the sudden, there was no more lengua and let’s face it, 3-1/2 lbs of tongue is a lot of meat for 2 people, especially when one of them doesn’t eat a lot of lengua when she makes it because she really doesn’t eat red meat. So, it’s been a while since we’ve had lengua. Not surprisingly, I have been wanting to make beef tongue but I wanted beef tongue in a different way. I knew if I fixed sliced beef tongue with almonds and grapes served with a brandy sauce it would be too beefy for Baby Lady’s tastes. So, I looked around and finally came up with this recipe. This is a very savory, sweet dish, remarkably similar to barbecue. In fact, if you were to chop this up and put it on a bun, people would think you served them a chop beef sandwich. Seriously! We opted for corn tortillas and tacos. 🙂
This is what we did.
For the Tongue
- 1 beef tongue, 3-4 pounds
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 peppercorns
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
For the Braise
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 1 large white onion, sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, large dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans tomato paste (6 oz. cans)
- 2 cups Malbec wine
- 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
First, put the tongue in a pot, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and let soak for 20 minutes. You need to clean the tongue and remove any “potential off flavors” which is accomplished by this step.
Drain, cover 75% of the tongue with water and add bay leaves
Heat over high heat until water boils. Reduce heat, cover and simmer the tongue for an 1-1/2 hour. Tongue is one of those pieces of meat that is always working. Hence, it’s a very tough but flavorful piece of meat. As such, it needs a long cooking time. After 1-1/2 hour, turn off heat and allow the tongue to cool in its liquid. When cooled, remove from the liquid.
Now you have to skin the tongue.If you have cooked the tongue properly, it should skin with relative ease. Start by cutting a 1/8 inch slit in the middle of the tongue from the tip all along the entire length of the tongue.
Once the tongue is slit, peel it and remove the tough outer skin.
Now, trim off any gristle and nasty bits and cut into pieces.
In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil over medium-high heat, add the tongue pieces and brown in batches. It will take you 5 – 8 minutes per batch.
When the last batch is browned, remove the tongue, then add in sliced onion
and bell peppers
Cook the onions and peppers over medium until the onions are golden brown, about 7 – 10 minutes. Add in minced garlic
Cook for an additional minute until the garlic becomes aromatic.
Now, add the tomato paste
Increase heat to medium high and brown for an additional 7 minutes scraping frequently so as not to burn the paste, until the paste is a rich brownish red color.
Add the red wine, making sure to scrape up all the sucs/fond in the bottom of the pan.
Simmer until wine is reduced by half.
Now, add salt,
ancho chile powder
and brown sugar
Next, put meat back in the pot
Add roughly 1 cup chicken stock or until tongue pieces are 2/3 covered. Put lid on pot and place in 350 F oven and braise for 3 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally.
When done, place in a serving bowl.
Serve in warm corn tortillas with lime pickled red onions and avocado. Enjoy!
28 thoughts on “Red Wine Braised Beef Tongue Tacos”
Tongue, one of my favorite parts of the beef, Good job!
Thanks. 🙂 Personally, I love it but it very much looks like a tongue so the sight grosses people out. It, naturally, has the texture of a tongue and is a tongue. As such, people automatically eliminate it from their meat choices which is a real shame. What’s the real difference between eating feet, shanks and tongue. I know lots of people who love liver (I don’t because of the taste), also an offal, but they wouldn’t dare consider eating tongue. It’s just one of those things.
I don’t know what people have against tongue, it is unbelievably tender! we order it every chance we get from simple tacos, to fancier French or modern preparations, and it has always been delicious. If I ever get to cook it myself, I will definitely make use of your great step by step directions of cleaning it! Btw, brain is delicious as well if you can trust the source…my mom used to make it for me from our freshly slaughtered pigs back home! Haven’t tried the testicles, I was mostly in tears and without appetite after seeing the poor piggies 😦
Thanks, Andreea. I love tongue but I also love sweet breads (the thymus gland), Rocky Mountain oysters (bull testicles), heart, etc. but no liver. Blech! Too much iron and strong flavor. Cooked certain ways I can tolerate it but liver is definitely not my favorite. I eat barbacoa made from a cow’s head and love ox tail. Sadly, most people won’t eat any of these cuts of meat. As for brain, I’m leery of brain because of mad cow disease. I also have never found fresh pork brains which I would be willing to try. We did eat the pork brain of the suckling pig which we had for Christmas which was very interesting. It’s supposed to make an incredible sandwich when fried. Of course, what isn’t good fried. 🙂
Well. OK. I am of the camp that loves chicken livers, but cringe at the thought of tongue. But in the way you wrote it, I have a whole new take on it. (I don’t like beef liver though for the reasons you mention.) HOWEVER, I do not think tongue will ever be cooked in this household until my daughter moves to college and my husband has left the house for an extended time, lol. But the preparation does sound delicious!
Thanks, Kathryn. There are a lot of people who feel the same way as you. 🙂 Have you ever tried lengua? Lengua is a nice way to be introduced to tongue and somebody else makes it. 🙂 Just make sure you find a place that makes it as their specialty.
I’ve prepared and eaten many things, Richard, that some may find far beyond their comfort zone. In fact, lengua was my “usual” at a favorite Mexican restaurant, now closed. One day I thought I’d make it for myself. All was fine until I saw beef tongue at my butcher’s. That was it. No, I’ll still eat tongue but there is no way I can do anything else with it but that. So, as delicious as your recipe sounds, and as much as I would enjoy a tongue taco, I’ll never be able to make one for myself. I guess what I’m trying to say is, “What time is dinner?” 🙂
Hi, John. Baby Lady said to tell you she’s glad this recipe didn’t leave you tongue tied. 😀 Dinner is generally 6:30 pm and you are more than welcome. Just let us know ahead of time so we can set an extra plate for you. 🙂
Great recipe and I love that you served it in tortillas.
Thanks, Rosemary. We serve lot’s of things in tortillas. 🙂
I would eat tongue, at least try it. But, yeah, it is not an attractive cut of meat! But we’ve seen it prepared enough on cooking shows that I definitely give it a shot.
Did your son have his surgery yet?
Hi, Virginia. Beef tongue really is pretty good if you can get past the way it looks, which most people cannot. It has a real beefy flavor and there are so many ways to fix it. Daniel won’t have his surgery until 9/19. I will fly up on 9/18 and have warned him he better be nice while I’m there or I will touch his nose. 😉
Ouch! I hope he behaves! 😃
I am well impressed with your use of tongue my friend.
I’ve eaten tongue but have never cooked it. I’m with John…I’ll call ahead before I stop by for tacos. 🙂
It’s not a very pretty cut of meat is it?! I have had it a few times before, loved it. Slowly cooked on a low heat with onions and garlic, delicious! Bought it once, ended up (almost) crying in the kitchen as I struggled to cook it and then sent it to the bin. Very disappointed in myself but I tried!
Hi, Nargess. Thanks for your comment. Too bad you had to toss it in the bin. 😦 I would have cried, too. I will be posting Baby Lady’s lengua recipe with step-by-step photos and instructions at some point in the future. It’s very simple but (like all tongue recipes) takes a while to cook. She does her recipe in a crockpot so we actually make it even in hot weather. The result is wonderfully flavorful and melt in your mouth tender. If you like tongue, don’t give up because of 1 bad experience. Perhaps you will have more success with a crockpot method.
Thanks Richard, I will look out for your post. Fingers crossed I’ll get it right next time!
Great recipe! Sounds delicious. I’ve never prepared tongue yet, but have eaten it lots as a cold cut on a sandwich. There are two kinds of sandwich meat with tongue in Holland and I used to eat both of them: just the tongue and chunks of tongue in blood sausage. It’s the latter that has made Kees dislike tongue.
Thanks, Stefan. I’m surprised you have never made tongue given your broad repertoire. I may get another one and try it sous vide just to see how it turns out. It makes great sandwich meat grilled and served with a nice red bell pepper relish.
I’m curious what it’d be like sous-vide. I have a veal cheek in my freezer for that very purpose.
Well, may I put in a very late comment!! I can’t, simply can’t understand people not loving and eating tongue. I began having it at least once a week in my childhood and have cooked it myself at least once a fortnight ever since. Love peeling it when cooked, but find the taste you achieve just by boiling so delicate and flavourful I simply put extra taste into the sides 🙂 ! Oh, adore kidneys, trip[e, sweetbreads and all livers also. Brains also, tho’ they contain too much cholesterol to prep often! As a child I loved the dish being prepped and alwways liked the ‘peel the skin’ bit 🙂 !
Thanks, Eha. To many people tongue is like brain and testicles. It’s a mental thing about offal. Many people think sweetbreads are testicles but they are the thymus gland. I like all of the things you mentioned EXCEPT liver. Beef, calf, and pork liver have a very distinct flavor (iron) I don’t like and also have a strong offensive odor. I used to be required to make liver at least once per month and I remember always having to taste it to make sure it was cooked and seasoned correctly.I know what good liver is supposed to taste like and I still don’t care for it. It’s one of the very few things I just do not like. Chicken liver and foie gras I like in certain ways but not all ways because it’s a textural thing. I have never eaten eyeballs and don’t know if I could. 😮
Hehe I used to peel beef tongues for a job but I’ve never actually cooked it myself! This looks like a wonderful dish.
Well, after you peeled the tongue, did you ever get to eat any of it? It really is one of my favorite parts of a bovine. 🙂 Do they eat much tongue in Orient?
Haha yep, I got to eat it from time to time in various tastings of dishes. Delish when cooked right, for sure! I haven’t noticed a lot of tongue here but certainly every other offal delight is available so surely its lurking somewhere. A lot of the more traditional places have piles of quite unidentifiable meat simmering away in broth so its quite hard to distinguish exactly what the bits are sometimes. Its all really tasty though 🙂
Ah…tasty bits. Say no more. 😉 😉 nod nod…
This was phenomenal!! I had never tried tongue before but when I saw it at the farmer’s market, I figured I’d buy it. I followed your recipe to a T except that since I had a 2 lb tongue, it was done in the pot at 1 hr 30 min. All of the liquid had evaporated and I didn’t want it to burn. It was perfect and super flavorful. The texture was something like I’ve never had but I hardly even had to use my teeth to chew it. I could’ve been toothless because it was that tender and buttery. I’m glad nobody else in my house had any balls to try it! More for me!! This is seriously a keeper and I can’t imagine another tongue recipe tasting better than this. If there is one, I’m sure you made it!