Lengua, Beef Tongue Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

Don’t let this offal turn you off. This lengua, or beef tongue, taco recipe will be one of the easiest things you’ll make at home providing that you have the 3 hours to simmer the tongue which you can totally do way ahead of time. The July 4th holiday is coming up, so really, you have no excuse not to do this for you and your omnivorous friends.

The tomatillo sauce was the easiest to make since you just put everything in a food processor and pulse. Sure you can buy the ones from the grocery store, but what are you doing while waiting for that tongue to simmer? You might as well have everything homemade, right?

When assembling your tacos, feel free to add avocados if you’re in your California mood, or thinly-sliced French breakfast radishes for some extra tartness. I simply used my hinona kabu, or Japanese turnips, harvest from my terrace. The roots didn’t quite make it because of the humidity, but I got some nice salad greens out of them.

1 beef tongue, completely thawed if frozen, thoroughly washed
1 large onion, halved
1 head of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp of peppercorns
corn tortillas
radish tops, thoroughly washed
hot sauce

For the tomatillo sauce:
6 tomatillos, husks removed, halved
1 small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalape¤o, chopped
juice from 1 lime

1. In a large pot, boil the tongue with enough water to cover and add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn and salt. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook up to 3 hours, or until the tongue is soft to the touch.
2. Remove the cooked tongue from the water to a chopping block until it’s cool to the touch. Using a paring knife and your hands, peel off the white-colored skin covering and discard. You may also discard the the rough patch where the tongue was attached to the cow’s mouth if that’s too much to look at–but it’s perfectly edible.
3. Slice the tongue in 1/4-inch slices. Heat some oil in a skillet and quickly sear tongue slices. Remove to a sieve to drain the oil.
4. Make your tomatillo sauce. Broil the tomatillos in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove to a food processor and pulse them with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Season to taste.
5. Assemble your tacos. On a skillet over medium fire, warm the corn tortillas to soften. Let your guests top their tortilla with the tongue pieces, radish tops and tomatillo sauce. Don’t be afraid to use more hot sauce!

2 thoughts on “Lengua, Beef Tongue Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce”

  • 1
    Annie on January 7, 2013

    Tongue tacos are my favorite, they are meltingly soft and tender, and oh so rich. I hooked my hubby by making him take a bite without telling him what he was eating, otherwise he wouldn’t have tried it. I’ve always let the local taco joints make mine, but this just might be the push I need to try my hand at tongue!

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