I’m no old hat when it comes to preparing and eating tongue. But I’ve had my first experience and here’s my honest conclusion: its one of the most delicious beef cuts available! Marbled in texture with even more tenderness than a sirloin steak, it’s worth purchasing, worth keeping on butchering day. Preparation is simple and tossing a slice into a sandwich or eating alongside mashed potatoes and gravy will make you wish for more!
If you don’t butcher your own beef (or have friends who do), you may be able to purchase beef tongue at your local grocery store, particularly if you shop at a large center. If you’re a Costco fan, you can often find a double package there, produced by Rumba Meats. If you are fortunate enough to butcher your own beef, removing the tongue is simple and fast.
Removal on Butchering Day
Remove the tongue after your animal has been skinned and the head detached. Pry the cow’s mouth open with your hands, just wide enough to get a blade between the teeth. Taking your knife, slice the cheeks open, toward the back of the head. Without this prep work, it will be difficult to get at the whole tongue! Pull the mouth open wide as possible, recruiting help if jaws won’t stay in place. Slip your blade under the tongue, slicing upward and through at the base where it connects. Try to get as much as possible! Take your prize home and rinse well. Cook immediately or freeze until ready to use.
How to Cook Beef Tongue
Because a cow’s tongue has a tough, outer skin, it’s best to boil it. Not only does it keep the meat soft and tender, but enables you to peel the rough skin off (which no one wants to consume). It’s important to note that if you boil it for too long, it will turn to mush. I don’t recommend using a crock pot on the first attempt unless you are available to check the texture throughout the cooking process.
If frozen, thaw before cooking. Though you may be tempted to remove the skin, please don’t! You’ll save meat and time by leaving it intact. Place the tongue in a pot and add the following herbs and spices to it.
- 2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp rubbed sage
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 6 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
This accomplished, add water until the tongue is (mostly) covered. The amount of liquid needed will depend on the size of your pot and the tongue. This one weighed approx 1.12 lbs (508 gm) and needed 8 C water to cover.
Add a lid to the pot and bring water to a rolling boil. Reduce to a light simmer and set the timer for 2 hrs. When accomplished, take a fork and “test” the meat. If fork encounters little resistance when inserted into the tongue, the meat is done. If it still feels tough and takes effort to push the fork through, continue cooking but test every 20 minutes. When done, remove tongue from the broth it’s created and place on a cutting board.
Though it will look unappetizing at this point, carry on with skin removal. Start at the underside of the base and gently peel skin toward the tip. Tender pink flesh will be revealed underneath. Meat will darken with oxygen exposure.
The tongue will have an almost-sticky coating underneath the skin. Don’t let it deter you! It won’t be tasted or felt in the finished product! Take your knife and cut meat into slices, as you would a roast. It is very tender and will quickly fall apart, so be gentle unless you want shredded beef tongue!
In comparison to roast beef, the color of carved tongue is only slightly lighter and nothing about it suggests ‘tongue.’ Enjoy your meat! I highly recommend it for use in tacos or wraps, in sandwiches or served alongside mashed potatoes and gravy!