Recipe: Lengua

Lengua is one of those foods that might gross you out just by the sheer fact of what it is. Mom used to always just coat it in barbecue sauce, so the kids never knew what they were eating and gobbled it down with rice. Today it's still darn tasty, with a texture of well-cooked, soft (not mushy) pot roast. This recipe is a combination of the recipes of two Mexican mamas.

It's after the jump.


  • 1 beef tongue, about 2-3 lbs
  • Garlic cloves
  • 1 vegetable bullion cube
  • Oil, tortillas, diced onion, and cilantro (for tacos)
  • Barbecue sauce and ½ cupdiced onion (for "barbecue" lengua)
  • Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Add the tongue and a clove or 2 of garlic and a bullion cube (optional). Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 30-50 minutes. You can tell when the tongue is done by sticking a fork in it -- if it slides in easily, it's ready. Drain off most of the water, reserving a couple of cups for later use, and toss in some ice to cool it enough to handle. When the beef is cooled, you will need to peel off the outer thick layer of skin, using the knife to help you along. You will also need to trim off the excess fat around the bottom of the tongue. Chop up and serve as desired, although it tastes really good just plain.

    To make tacos: Dice lengua into roughly half-inch cubes. Return to a saucepan with pressed garlic, two tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper. Fry until lengua is slightly browned and garlic is soft and fragrant. Serve with tortillas, topped with diced onion and cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

    To make "barbecue" tongue: Coarsely chop lengua in large pieces. Return to a pan with some garlic, diced onion and 1 teaspoon of oil. Cook for about three-four minutes, until onion softens. Toss in one cup of your favorite barbecue sauce and one cup of reserved liquid and heat just until warm. Serve warm over rice.

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    Becky Means