Beef Tongue Recipe
Lengua de Res - Boiled Beef Tongue

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This recipe and photos are courtesy of Cynthia Detterick-Pineda of Andrews, TX. More of Cynthia's Southwest Recipes.

Beef Tongue Recipe (Lengua de Res) is not something that you see on very many restaurant menus, or even on very many dinner tables of homes, but it is actually a very affordable meat that can be just as good as any other cut of beef (well maybe not the steaks and prime rib part). I have been told by people who have eaten my recipe for tongue, which if they didn’t know what it was, they would have thought it was a slow cooked roast.

Beef Tongue - Lengua de Res

My mother grew up eating boiled tongue in the Deep South. She tells me she prefers hers served cold, which is also one of the ways you can find it served in Hispanic homes. Tongue salads are a common way of serving this meat in the northern parts of Mexico. I believe my recipe can work for a lot of people, as well as serve a lot of people, all at a very affordable price.

The market in my home town carries tongue most of the time, however the ones they have in there are extremely large (up to 9 pounds). I prefer a smaller tongue, usually from a calf. There is little difference, if any, in the final results, including taste and tenderness.  It is just that cooking a very large tongue will require a very large pot, or possibly cutting the tongue into more manageable pieces and cooking all these separately. If you can find a smaller tongue, 3 to 4 pounds, that is usually the best ones to purchase. Of course if you are planning on feeding a very large crowd, or don’t mind leftovers, then the larger ones may be better for you.

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Beef Tongue Recipe - Lengua de Res:

Recipe Type: Beef, Beef Tongue
Cuisine: Southwest, Mexican
Yields: 5 to 6 servings
Prep time: 1 hr
Cook time: 4 hr


1 cow or calf tongue, approximately 3 pounds
2 onions, one (1) quartered and one (1) finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5 large tomatoes, skinned and diced*
1 sprig of fresh thyme, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon), if using dried thyme, decrease to 1 teaspoon and crush well
1 sprig of fresh oregano, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon), if using dried oregano, decrease to 1 teaspoon and crush well
1 or 2 long green (Anaheim or similar) chile peppers that have been roasted, peeled, seeds removed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces**
1 (6 ounces) can of tomato paste
3 tablespoons finely chopped capers or green olives (optional)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Learn How To Peel Fresh Tomatoes. Once the skin is off, dice the tomato into small pieces and set aside until ready to use.

** Learn how to roast and peel chile peppers.


raw beef tongue


Scrub the tongue thoroughly with water and place in a large pot with enough water to cover the top of the tongue. Add the quartered onion. Bring just to a boil over medium high heat; lower temperature to medium, and allow the tongue to cook for approximately 3 hours, covered, until no longer pink (cook approximately 50 minutes per pound of tongue). Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part with a knife. It should enter easily when the tongue has cooked.

NOTE: I prefer to use a pressure cooker to do this. If you are using a pressure cooker, secure the lid and bring the pot up to temperature so that it begins to steam. Lower the temperature to medium and let it cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, but do not release the steam.  Allow the steam to come down slowly.

Remove the tongue from the pot, and allow to cool until it is just able to be handled without be burning yourself.  While the tongue is cooling is a good time to go ahead and peel the tomatoes:

The tongue needs to be skinned while it is still warm. If you allow too much cooling, it will be difficult to peel the skin off. When the cooked tongue is still very warm, but not hot, the skin will almost fall from the meat. Once it is peeled, slice the tongue diagonally against the grain into 1/2-inch slices. 

cooked beef tongue

In a different pot, or a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When it is hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent. This can be tested by placing the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. When hot, the oil will begin to boil around the spoon handle. Add the garlic and continue to sauté approximately 1 to 2 more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, thyme, and long green chiles that have been diced. Reduce the heat to medium/medium low and allow this to simmer approximately 15 minutes (this will cook the tomatoes and increase the amount of liquid in the sauce).

jar of capersAdd the tomato paste and mix well to incorporate into the sauce. Add the chopped capers and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the sliced tongue into the sauce and gently cover over. Decrease the heat to low/medium low so there is only a slight simmer and cook this approximately 20 to 30 minutes so that all the ingredients can heat through and the flavors can meld. Remove from heat.

Serve with potatoes, Spanish Rice, or some Corn Tortillas or Flour Tortillas to make Burritos.

Makes approximately 5 to 6 servings.



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