Step 1: Acquire tongue

For quite a while I've been having a stare-down with the tongue on display in the butcher's section of my grocery store. I'm a big proponent of the use all parts of the buffalo philosophy of meat-eating, and felt guilty that not only was I unsure how to cook tongue, I had no idea what it tasted like. Worse, due to my deficient cultural upbringing it looked, well, a bit icky. That prejudice clearly needed to be overcome to maintain a consistent 'ethical carnivore' philosophy.

This week I finally bit the bullet and purchased a 2.5lb beef tongue. After a read through the 70's and 90's editions of the Joy of Cooking and some web research, every recipe instructed me to boil the tongue for several hours before either serving it directly or in a strongly-flavored sauce. This seemed like a throwback to my grandmother's generation, but for lack of another plan I decided to try it for my first go. Thus, this Instructable was prepared in accordance with the Joy's recipe for boiling fresh beef tongue.

As you can probably tell, it came folded in half and wrapped with a piece of string. I untied it, gave it a quick rinse (you're supposed to give it a good scrubbing if it looks grimy), and dropped it in a large 8qt pot. It still doesn't look particularly attractive, does it?

Step 2: Add veggies

Add vegetables to the pot:

2 onions, sectioned
1 large carrot, chunked
3 or more celery stalks with leaves
6 sprigs parsley
8 peppercorns

(Strangely exact, aren't they? Needless to say, I was not. Who knows how many peppercorns ended up in my pot.)

Cover the ingredients with water.
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ablewebs2 months ago

Just tossed my 3.5 pound beef tongue (from the local Asian supermarket) into the pressure cooker, covered it with water and added some peppercorns, herbs and garlic. The pressure cooker's instructions say 75-90 minutes for a 2-3 pound tongue, so I'll leave it in for a few minutes longer. I haven't had tongue in years, but I liked it in my twenties, so I'm sure I'll like it now. I'm not squeamish about organ meats. My favourites are chicken hearts (my Brazilian friends season them with garlic salt and grill them on skewers like kebabs... OMG delicious!) and lamb liver. I really like beef heart, too. I know the dog will devour the skin of the tongue and the gristly bits. She's not picky!

ptaha1 year ago
Tongue is a cold appetizer in Russian cuisine. We boil it and serve chilled and sliced very thinly or you can use gelatine to create a clear liquid and pour over sliced tongue. It is delicious and expensive dish that you can find in Russian restaurants.
Lerrinus1 year ago
I woke up to the sound of hissing this morning - Beef Tongue for dinner tonight! :-)
I have heard many times now hat it tastes like roast beef. I know a few people who will be found eating it from time to time and I think I might have to take them up on the offer to try it.
Vendigroth7 years ago
how about... Barbuqeueqeuequeue it? Give it to Tim to turn into jerky? hey, you ever eaten eel sushi? As sushi goes, its not very adventurous, i'll admit, but it tastes great!
canida (author)  Vendigroth7 years ago
Unagi is pretty tasty! Especially with avocado. We just had some last night. I don't think barbeque is the way to go, unless it's very slow- you've got to break down LOTS of cartilage and tendony bits.
Eel, avocado and cream cheese hand roll: my favorite!
donj12907 years ago
i have been eating tongue for a long time as a kid in, not jewish either. i love the consistency of it and the flavor is like nothing else. it is hard to find in a grocery store setting tho. you're spread looks fantastic i am going to try it next time i do a tongue.i usually have to find a butcher to order it, but as the world gets smaller ethnicly it has been easier to find. thanks
I agree; the flavor is like nothing else. It's the most tender, delicious meat; I'm boiling one right now. My grandmother cooked this - nothing in the water, just boiled beef tongue salted at the table. I can't wait! Skinning it can be a pain, but so worth it!
jcobb73 years ago
Awesome! We get tongue all the time from our local authentic mexican restaurant. But we just bought a cow and when we had it butchered I requested the tongue. My 10 year old is so excited to try it, my 4 year old I already know loves it. I will definitely do as you did in boiling the tongue this weekend. A show we were watching gave it a final sear before serving. Thanks for posting this! :)

Tongue is so tender.  I prefer corned tongue.  If you steam it in a pressure cooker it only takes a half hour to cook.  Remove the skin while it is warm as it is removed easy. I steam mine with onion carrot and peppercorns with and vineger.  I do not use the stock, I make a rich gravy and serve it with boiled fresh veggies.  Most of my Aussie friend do not eat it, coming from England I had it as a meal very often.  I have also served it with a white sauce.  I have sliced it very thin and made sandwiches with it.  People that would not normally it,, enjoy it as they do not know what it is with a little chutney. 

My mom used to boil a beef tongue and remove some kind of skin from the outside. Then she'd slice it from the tip to the base in about 1/2 thick slices. We'd have some for dinner and the rest would remain in the refrigerator for other uses. I remember having leftover tongue fried in bacon grease and served with fried eggs and grits. Sometimes I'd have it cold, plain with mustard or between slices of bread with lots of mayonnaise and thinly sliced onions. It's very delicate and delicious, and I don't understand why I haven't prepared one for myself. Not ever. I love the thick, fatty part of it, best of all. I can't begin to describe the texture. Much nicer than brains and eggs!
mycuzzin4 years ago
I tried this alternative to the traditional tongue dish. I boiled a tongue for about 2½ hours, cleaned it and cut it into slices about 5mm thick. I simmered a mixture of 1 cup of tomato ketchup, 1 cup of mustard sauce (restaurant type) and a handful of brown sugar. The tongue slices were left to simmer in the sauce for 20 minutes. Just before serving, I added a 250ml tub of fresh cream to the tongue and sauce, stirred the concoction one more time and plated. Serve with fresh corn bread. Goes down deliciously as a starter.
BiggieSOMD5 years ago
$9.67 for a 2.5lb beef tongue from the local Shoppers(East coast multicultural grocery store)

However I went to the local Mexican market and got a better quality one for $2 for 3lb
tabbique5 years ago
Can I recommend giving this peeled part to your cat or dog?  Nothing to waste, and a good source of easy digestible protein.
canida (author)  tabbique5 years ago
Nice idea! 

Unfortunately most of the animals in my neighborhood are raccoons and possums, so I prefer to put it in the city compost.  Not as good as a direct use, but it still turns into something useful.
tabbique canida5 years ago
You bet!  Gives it back to the earth, nothing wrong in that :)
eash5 years ago
I ran across a tongue and heart combo in a little discount grocery story a few days ago. It was the first time I'd ever seen one, and I had to stop and stare at it for a few minutes and try to decide the level of ick I felt at the idea of eating a tongue. I decided it wasn't food. After reading this, though, I'm tempted to go back and get one. I've only recently stopped being the pickiest person I know and I'm trying to catch up on everything I've missed. I'll try anything I classify as food at least once, and now this has to go on the list.
Anoni Moose5 years ago
Been having magnificent boiled (beef) tongue for years -- usually cook it in a slow cooker, then the "skin" pulls off in seconds when plunged in cool water. It's very good, we even buy tongue now in "quantity" from a restaurant supply house and freeze them individually (less expensive this way). That which makes it perfection is the use of Louisville's Famous Mustard Sauce on it (available in the Southern Heritage cookbook). Okay, that's my "secret"! Makes all the difference in the world. Probably the most used recipe (for me) in that whole good sized book.
zisidog5 years ago
I got an unpickled tongue from my butcher last week. I lightly seasoned it with a small amount of salt and pepper, placed it in a roasting pan covered tightly with aluminum foil. Put it in the oven at 200 degrees at 10:00pm and took it out at 8:00am. It made its' own wonderful gravy. I let it rest an hour before it was easily peeled. My tongue loving guests were in meat heaven! I wouldn't know, I don't eat it!
Suppafly6 years ago
Whats a beef tongue cost? I could see eating it if it was cheap, but if its as much as a decent steak, I'd just get that. Since you are buying the meat, its not like it's you that is wasting any particular part - although trying to make the most of an animal is a good practice in general.
Around 2 lbs, mine was originally $8, but on sale for about $6. I probably won't buy this again. Although it was tasty, there's still a tinge of gross factor going on and my husband wouldn't touch it. Peeling your meat just doesn't seem natural.
Parts in lower demand are ususally much cheaper. Heart is usually 1/10 the cost of a decent steak (or less), I haven't seen tongue at my supermarket yet, but am willing to bet that it's around the same price range.
sabablue6 years ago
Your instructable was very easy to follow! Thank you. Started my (roughly) 2 lb. tongue (on sale for under $6 at Kroger) at 1pm and sliced 'er up a little after 4pm. Changes I made: After boiling, I left the temp at 3.5 for a whole 3 hours and added garlic, basil, lots of peppercorns, sea salt, carrots, celery, onion and chicken boullion. My 85 year old Czech mom said her mom used to make a German or Russian recipe with a brown, sour cream-type gravy - something like a stroganoff, I imagine, and said it was delicious. I tried tongue once before as a teenager and remembered that it was tender and tasted like beef, but couldn't get more than one bite down, thinking about what it was. Today, however, I enjoyed it - very tender, seasoned nicely. It tastes like a mild pot roast to me. I can definitely see this with horseradish (alas, I have none), or chopped up as a BBQ sandwich. My 4 year old niece, Kaitlyn, LOVED it and is taking the rest home to her mom, who said unenthusiastically, "Oh. Gee. Thanks, Aunt Mary. You shouldn't. Really."
scafool6 years ago
Boil 3 hours? OH DEAR, you need to learn about pressure cookers.
cwodtke6 years ago
Anthony Boudain's cookbook includes a maderia tongue recipe; it's what esscoffier recommends also. I'm trying it as I type (well, boiling)
Gakki7 years ago
"Is this rabbit?" "No! It's not Rabbit" (a while later) "Is it horse?" "NO!" (another while later) "I know! It's tongue!" (sheepish look and no reply) "It's tongue."
randal7 years ago
i am from deep south louisiana, we eat most everything on all animals. we eat most animals. i prepare beef tongue by boiling it down for about 3.5 hrs,remove the outer skin, cut it in the middle of it and stuff it with garlic,onion,celery,bell pepper and cayenne pepper. cook it down in a black pot with oil and water. about half cooking oil and half water half way up the tongue. when the water i gone,thats when its done. you have a little gravey for rice. not much but some you take the tongue out of the pot and put your rice in and stir it around for best results. best eaten warm side dishes down here are smothered potatoes with sausage,smotherd okra,smothered green beans,or snap beans with eggs.
westfw8 years ago
Your piece of meat there looks a lot ... ickier than the tongue my dad prepared occasionally as I was growing up (though that was always boiled as well.) I don't recall having to peel it, for instance, though I wasn't paying a lot of attention to cooking at that time. Maybe it came pre-peeled? IIRC, our tongue had a range of textures ranging from normal meat to "disconcertingly soft." You can get "smoked tongue" as a lunch meat at some better delicatessans. Escargo is a convenient (?) vehicle for eating garlic butter. Yum. (um. You're not going to go through the rest of the unusual pieces of a cow, are you? In some ways it would make an interesting series, but...)
Patrik westfw7 years ago
Hm... I did see a "beef pizzle soup" advertised on a chinese restaurant menu once (in Albuquerque, NM, of all places...). Never worked up the ecourage to try it though.

And yes, that is what you think it is. I hear they make great doggie snacks as well...
canida (author)  westfw8 years ago
It's quite easy to peel post-boiling, so it probably happened and you just didn't notice. Yes, the texture varies widely- you can see the variation in some of those pictures.

I probably haven't had properly-prepared escargot, but so far haven't found it terribly interesting. Garlic butter goes well on everything.

No plans currently for a cow series- this was the only bit mocking me at the grocery. I've at least tried most of the other parts (hooray for chinese and vietnamese restaurants!) so they're not on my to-do list. I suppose it could be considered a companion piece to the giblet gravy instructable.
Re: (hooray for chinese and vietnamese restaurants!)

Yup, that's how I crossed off:

  • Beef Tripe (Pho: chewy, was pretty tasteless)
  • octopus (Sushi piece: chewy, with little suction cups inverted to hold the soy sauce)
  • sea urchin (Sushi piece: about the most disgusting meat I've ever eaten)
  • squid (in a vietnamese Hot Pot: quite cute and tasty)
Baby octopus salad -- super chewy, but yum!
taste gooood
DanYHKim7 years ago
I always had boiled tongue sliced to about 1/4 inch and dipped in a 1:1 mix of soy sauce and vinegar. I think mom would put a fair amount of garlic in the pot for boiling, but not much else. The part that always grossed me out was when we peeled it after boiling.
nobody8 years ago
You can also boiled tongue into a tasty barbacoa(chopped tongue or cow's head) dish with serrano chiles, onions and cilantro.
canida (author)  nobody7 years ago
That sounds great- I'll wait for the Instructable!
DanYHKim8 years ago
My family used to eat tongue rather frequently. It is good with a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and soy sauce. Very good cold.
CementTruck8 years ago
I pride myself on being able to eat damn near anything. I've eaten cow brain, pigs knuckles, shark, gator -etc., etc. I grew up eating cow tongue, and never liked it. Flavor tastes fine, but the texture was just odd. Question of the day - WHO'S TASTING WHO!
canida (author)  CementTruck8 years ago
I'll try anything once, and most things twice if you can convince me the first test wasn't representative. I've had some nice alligator, guinea pig, squirrel, and frog; pretty much anything I've had the opportunity to try seems to be tasty when done well. If you ever find yourself at an Ethiopian restaurant, try the kitfo- it's a really good spiced beef tartare. Cow brain is off my list due to prions, shark for toxin concentrations. Odd texture doesn't bother me; I've become a big fan of tendon in my pho, though I don't really see the attraction of chicken feet. Who's tasting who? I think I win in this case.
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