Beef Tacos de Lengua (Beef Tongue Tacos)

Beef tongue may be found at local Asian markets, Mexican markets, or ordered by your local butcher.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: One 3-pound tongue makes enough meat for about 18-24 tacos.

Ingredients

  • 1 3-4 lb beef tongue
  • 2 large onions, peeled
  • The cloves from 1 head (yes an entire head) of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 6-7 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp of peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Corn tortillas (2 to 3 per person)
  • Salsa verde*
  • Avocados
  • Cilantro
  • Chopped red onion
  • Thinly sliced radishes for garnish

* Bottled or canned salsa verde can be found in the Hispanic section of markets. To make homemade salsa verde, remove husks from 1 lb of tomatillos, place tomatillos in a pan, cover with water, simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Place tomatillos, 1/3 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, 2 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice, a jalapeño or serrano chile pepper, and about a teaspoon of salt in a blender. Blend until smooth, add more salt to taste.

Method

1 Simmer the tongue: Fill a large (12-quart if you have one) stock pot two-thirds full with water. Add the tongue, onions, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 hours, until the tongue is soft to the touch and tender.

beef tongue first slow cook beef tongue in water with aromatics for tacos de lengua

2 Remove the skin-like covering: Remove tongue from water and let cool for a couple of minutes.

simmer beef tongue is how you cook cow tongue for tacos cook the beef tongue for beef tongue tacos de lengua

Notice the light colored skin-like covering over most of the tongue. Using your fingers, and/or a sharp small knife, remove this covering and discard.

remove light part of skin covering beef tongue for beef tongue tacos remove all of the light colored skin of the cooked beef tongue

Notice the rough patch of meat where the tongue would attach to the bottom of the mouth. Arturo removes this patch (as does his mother when she prepares tongue) because it is a little rough. It's perfectly edible though, so keep it attached if you want.

rough patch of tongue for making tongue tacos cut out rough patch of beef tongue for making tongue tacos

3 Slice and sauté the tongue: Slice the tongue in 1/4-inch slices. (If you are not preparing the whole tongue for tacos, you can return whatever tongue you do not slice to the cooking water to soak.)

slice cooked cow tongue for tacos saute sliced beef tongue for tacos de lengua

Heat a little oil in a frying pan on medium high and sauté the slices on both sides until they are lightly browned.

4 Dice: Remove from pan and slice first into strips, then crosswise again so that you end up with small cubes.

slice cooked beef tongue for tongue tacos chop sliced beef tongue for tacos de lengua

5 Assemble the tacos: Soften tortillas either by cooking on the stove-top until pockets of air appear in them, or in the microwave (about 10 seconds per tortilla).

Place a large spoonful of meat in the center of a tortilla. Add a spoonful of salsa verde and some chopped avocado, onion, and chopped fresh cilantro. Garnish with radish slices.