If you haven’t tried beef tongue, you are missing out. It is the most tender and delicious meat and can be prepared in a variety of ways (tongue tacos being especially popular). Although it is a muscle, it is more nutrient dense than other muscles, and like the heart, is really considered an organ meat. It’s also typically quite inexpensive. I buy 2.5-3lb grass-fed beef tongues for $6 each from my local farmer. You can also buy them from US Wellness Meats (although, they are considerably more expensive).
It can be a little strange cooking something that looks so much like exactly what it is (and I think we’re all a little used to being very dissociated from the animal our meat comes from). But, if you can come to terms with handling a giant tongue, then this recipe is absolutely exquisite. (Note: the whole tongue appearance thing doesn’t bother me at all. But if it does bother you, you could slice the tongue very thin, cube it, or even shred it before eating.)
Tongue is delicious but this sauce is crazy awesome. My only big mistake the first night we had this meal was that I didn’t make a side dish that could absorb all that extra sauce. I highly recommend serving with something like mashed cauliflower or cauliflower rice or even paleo biscuits just to mop up all that tasty goodness.
Variation: If you’re lucky enough to get lamb tongue, you can use several in place of the cow tongue. They only needs to be boiled for about 1 hour 15 minutes
Ingredients (Beef Tongue):
- 2.5-3 lbs beef tongue
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary (about 1½ Tbsp dried rosemary)
- 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme (about 2 tsp dried thyme)
- 8 whole garlic cloves
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 1 tsp salt
- Water to cover, about 6 cups
Ingredients (Rosemary Mustard Reduction):
- Cooking liquid from beef tongue
- 2 Tbsp brown or Dijon-style mustard (something grainy is especially good)
- 2 tsp lemon juice (wine could be substituted)
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Place the whole beef tongue in a large stock pot. Place vegetables and herbs around the tongue (ideally, it should be a pretty tight fit in your pot). You don’t even need to bother peeling the garlic or onions here. They are just in the pot to give flavor to the broth. Pour water over the top, just enough to cover the tongue.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 3-3½ hours. Check the level of the water every half hour or so and top up as required.
- Remove the tongue from the pot and let cool. Pour the broth through a fine mesh sieve (or a few layers of cheesecloth) into a smaller pot and discard all of the vegetables and any other bits.
- Bring broth to a boil and maintain a rolling boil until it has reduced to 1½ cups or less (about 10-15 minutes, depending on how much liquid you started with).
- Add rosemary to broth and boil another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, mustard and lemon juice. Wisk to combine.
- Meanwhile, as soon as beef tongue is cool enough to touch, peel off the white leathery skin on the outside (you might need a knife to get it started, but then it should come off very easily) and discard. Slice as you like it (if your reduction is still going to be a few minutes, cover with tin foil to keep warm).
- Pour rosemary mustard reduction over the tongue and serve!