If you are not a fan of offal, you should probably look away now. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Still here? Then you rock! Why? Cause Beef Tongue Tacos!!!
Beef tongue tacos, or tacos de lengua, happen to be one of Miss A’s favorite foods. Yes, you read that right, my 8-year-old eats tongue and loves it! It started a couple of years back with a question on Oxtails. She wanted to know what Oxtails were and wasn’t phased at all when I told her they were a cow’s tail. She then asked me what else could be eaten from animals. It was a great talk on nose to tail eating and she was super excited to try other offal.
The tongue was the first thing we started with.
I figured though, that if I was going to get the whole family to eat tongue, that I should probably figure out how to disguise it. Beef tongue tacos graced our table that night and were promptly devoured by everyone.
Beef tongue tacos aren’t that difficult to make, but the tongue itself needs a little work first. The tongue is a muscle, after all, one that works hard and is very lean, making it tough. Just like any other tough piece of meat, beef tongue needs a good soak in hot liquid in order to reach it tender destiny. In other words, it needs to braised.
How you choose to tenderize your beef tongue is up to you. I prefer doing it in my digital pressure cooker because a) it’s done in less than an hour and b) I don’t have to babysit it. I’ve had this bad boy for years and it has been a huge help in the kitchen, from quickly cooking dried beans to cooking the most tender pork belly you’ve ever tasted, it has been put through its paces and is still holding on strong. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, just follow the instruction, using a large pot on the stove-top instead. Everything is the same except for the cooking time. Check out the notes section of the recipe card for more info!)
So, into the pressure cooker, the beef tongue goes, along with onion, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cilantro and a Serrano chile. Then you just barely cover the tongue with water, set your pressure cooker to cook for 45 minutes. Once the time is up, let the pressure come down on its own, remove the lid and let the tongue cool in the liquid.
Once the tongue is cool enough to handle, remove it from the liquid and pull the skin off. Yes, you read that right, beef tongue is covered in a thick skin that is easily removed once it’s cooked. You’ll notice that the skin is already very loose, so just take a sharp knife to cut a slit into skin, then pull it all off. You might also want to remove the thick muscle where the tongue connects to the mouth. It is not necessary, but it is tougher than the rest of the beef tongue.
After removing the skin, slice the tongue into 1/2 inch slices.
Then again into 1/2 inch strips and finally into small cubes. You’ll have quite a bit of tongue. Probably more than you need, so set aside what you plan on using for tacos and place the rest of the beef tongue covered with the poaching liquid into an airtight container and toss it in the fridge.
When you’re ready to make the tacos, heat two tablespoons of lard in a big skillet. Cast iron and stainless steel work the best, but non-stick is useful too. Once the fat is melted and shimmering, add in the tongue. Spread it out into a mostly flat layer and let it cook, undisturbed until it becomes browned and crispy. Give it a stir, and let it hang out again. Do this a few more times until most of the beef tongue is browned with delicious crispy bits.
Give it a little season of salt and that is all she wrote! Just pile the beef tongue into some tortillas and top with your favorite taco topper. I love using a squeeze of lime and some pickled onions and radishes. The kids love a bit of cheese and my homemade taco sauce. The combinations are endless!
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Delicious, tender, beef tongue tacos are as easy to make as they are tasty.
- 3-4 lb beef tongue
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1 large yellow or Spanish onion
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 Serrano peppers (sliced in half)
- 2 tbs lard or canola/veg oil
- Flour or Corn tortillas
- Diced Tomatoes (optional)
- Cilantro (finely chopped (optional))
- Salsa (optional)
- Lime wedges (optional)
- Diced Avocado (optional)
- Picked red onions (optional)
- Picked radishes (optional)
- In a pressure cooker, add in the tongue, cilantro, onion, serano, peppercorns and cumin seeds.
- Add in enough water to just cover the tongue and pressure cook for 45 minutes.
- Alternatively, add the ingredients to a large pot, fill with enough water to just cover the tongue, bring it to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer and cook for 3 to 4 hours.
- Remove from water and let sit until cool enough to handle.
- Remove the ‘skin’ by pulling it off from the tongue and trim the tough muscle on the end that holds the tongue in place.
- Dice into small cubes and either cook right away, or store in an airtight container covered with the cooking liquid.
- In a large saute or cast iron pan over high heat, melt the lard or add in the veg oil. Once shimmering, add in the tongue and cook, till browned, only stirring when needed. You want nice crispy bits.
- Serve in warmed or grilled tortillas with your favorite additions. We use a squeeze of lime and the optional ingredients listed above.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, place everything in a large pot and just barely cover with water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it barely simmer for 3 to 4 hours.