A simple beef tongue recipe that results in tender, melt in your mouth meat. The tasty mushroom sauce is optional, but it greatly enhances the dish.
Nose-to-tail eating is a responsible way for meat-eaters to consume meat. And this particular cut of offal makes it very palatable indeed. It's wonderfully flavorful and tender, and it's also surprisingly easy to make.
I learned this recipe from my good friend Irina, a wonderful cook who makes many traditional recipes. My entire family loves it - yes, even the kids!
Is beef tongue really cow tongue?
Yes! Lengua is a dish made from the tongue of a cow. I can see why some people find this difficult to accept. I suppose there is a certain reluctance unless you grew up eating internal organs.
But for someone who's used to eating the entire cow, not just steaks, it's really no more problematic than a piece of steak. It's just meat. And it's wonderful!
In fact, as far as I know, our modern Western culture is the first human culture to shun organ meats. Eating just muscle meat is such a wasteful way to consume animals.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty offal recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Beef tongue: Not readily available in U.S. supermarkets, I often special-order it at Whole Foods.
Spices: Dried bay leaves, whole peppercorns, and whole allspice.
Butter: I love using creamy European butter, but any butter will be great.
Onions and mushrooms: As a lazy cook, I often use the food processor to chop onions, and I buy pre-sliced mushrooms.
Beef broth: Store-bought is fine - just check the ingredients list to make sure it looks OK.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Cornstarch: Just 1 teaspoon to thicken the sauce.
How to cook beef tongue
It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Simmer the cow tongue with spices until tender, 3-4 hours.
2. Remove the skin and slice.
3. To make the sauce, cook the onions and mushrooms in butter, then add the broth, the salt, and the black pepper.
4. Add the sliced meat and simmer for 30 minutes, until super tender.
5. You can thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch if you'd like.
Where can I buy it?
If you're in the U.S., this can be quite a challenge. You'll probably need to ask your butcher to special order it for you.
Or go to a Hispanic market, where it's always available. Lately, I've been able to find it frozen at Whole Foods, so that's progress.
Does it taste good?
Oh yes. When properly cooked, it's tender and very flavorful. I consider it a delicacy, especially when served with my friend Irina's delicious onion-mushroom sauce.
In fact, I often think to myself that it's just as good as ribeye roast - and so much cheaper!
The best way to cook beef tongue
The tongue of a cow is a muscular organ that works hard, so it's very tough when uncooked. Much like beef heart, you have two options when cooking it.
Either slice it very thin and cook quickly, as they do in Korean barbecue. Or cook it low and slow, in a saucepan in water or in your slow cooker.
I like the second method because it results in meat that literally melts when you put it in your mouth. So wonderfully tender!
And despite owning a slow cooker, I prefer to cook it in water. This is mostly because then I get a wonderful bonus - rich, flavorful homemade beef broth!
What to serve with this dish?
What to do with leftovers?
You can keep cooked leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
I actually really like them cold. Sliced thin and served with quick pickles, mustard, and fresh-cut veggies, cold slices of leftover beef tongue are one of my favorite lunches.
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Beef Tongue Recipe
- 1 beef tongue 2 or 3 lb.
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch, optional
- Rinse the tongue and place it in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover - I use 14 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil. This will likely take 20-30 minutes. Skim the foam off from the top.
- Lower the heat to a simmer. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and allspice, and cook, partially covered, turning the tongue every hour to ensure even cooking on all sides. Cook 3 hours for a 2-lb. tongue, 4 hours for a 3-lb. tongue.
- Remove the cooked beef tongue to a cutting board. Allow it to cool until easier to handle, then remove the skin, as shown in the video, slice and serve, with or without sauce.
- To make the sauce, heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and swirl to coat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 10 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft.
- Add broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the sliced tongue, cover it with the sauce, lower heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.
- If you wish to thicken the sauce, 5 minutes before it’s done, mix 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of cold water and stir the mixture into the sauce.