Preparing Lengua (Cow Tongue)

Today we prepared Lengua!

This can be a sensitive subject for some due to the nature of the protein we are working with - cow tongue. It can look a bit strange, but it makes for some delicious food. The texture is soft and velvety and leaves a nice mouth feel from the fat of the meat. Lengua tacos are hands down my favorite taco, and my torta ahogada of choice is lengua too. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
 If you've never had it before and are feeling adventurous, give it a try- Let's roll up our sleeves and prepare some lengua!

You can find lengua in most big box meat departments, or you can look at your local Mexican or Hispanic market. The lengua we bought was 3.12 pounds raw, and yielded about 1.5 pounds of cooked and prepared lengua.

  • Begin by taking the tongue out of the packaging and rinse under cold water. Place in the center of your crock pot (don't worry if it remains folded, that's normal) 
  • Take half an onion and cut into large pieces, toss into the crock pot.
  • Take a head of garlic and slice in half across the middle, shell and all, add to the crock pot. 
  • Add some basic seasoning at this point; we added a blend of smoked salt, ancho, and pepper. 
  • Add enough water to cover about half the tongue and close the lid. Set the crock pot on low and cook for 12-14 hours; the longer you cook, the softer and more tender the meat will be. 
  • After the meat has cooked to your chosen doneness, turn the crock pot off and take out the tongue straining as much of the au jus off of the meat. Place on a cutting board to cool enough to be handled.
  • Take a sharp knife and cut into the hard exterior skin, if you want you can peel this off with your hands or use a knife and tongs to pull it off. Be careful of any pockets of au jus that may have formed between the outer layer and the meat itself. 
  • Once the outer layer is off, begin to remove any excess fat and gristle. You can use your hands or run the blade of your knife across the meat to slough off the gristle and discard. 
  • Once I've removed what I can from the whole piece of meat, I begin to cut the tongue into roughly three pieces to make sure I've removed as much of the unwanted fat and gristle as I can. 
  • When you finished removing the fat and gristle to your preference, you can cut, tear, or shred the meat to your desired thickness. 
  • The meat is ready to be eaten as it is at this point, or you can lightly crisp the meat in a pan- you do not need to add much cooking fat, if any, as the meat will have it's own fat to cook in. 
  • Lengua meat can be eaten in tacos, we top our lengua tacos with chopped onion, cilantro, avocado, and salsa verde. 
    • You can also enjoy lengua in a sandwich, called a "torta" in Mexico, or with anything you would normally eat shredded or pulled meat.