Lets Cooking! Lengua Verde

December 27th, 2007 by: joshua

Lengua Verde has always been one of my favorite meals. I grew up with it and I always assumed that my Mom had picked up the recipe somewhere in Central America. However, I just learned that the recipe actually came from my Grandma Phyllis. Anyway, Mom always makes me a tongue on special occasions like my birthday or if we haven’t seen each other in awhile.

Cheryl Flavin. Boiling the beef tongue

I can be hard to find a tongue in the US, but if keep a sharp eye at the meat counter and ask around you should be able to find one. Start off by boiling the tongue for a long time in pickling spices. Mom claims that there isn’t an exact recipe for this and that she just throws in whatever comes to mind depending on what she sees in the spice cabinet. Good choices include: cinnamon sticks, mustard seed, black pepper corns, whole cloves, whole allspice, juniper berries, crumbled whole mace, dill seeds, bay leaves, coriander seeds, dried red pepper, and ginger.

Boiling the beef tongue

Boil it all until the tongue is tender.

Beef Tongue

Then remove and allow to cool.

While the tongue is cooling start on the sauce. Brown a large onion in butter until soft. Add chopped poblano peppers, 1 can of Ortega chilies and 1 large can of chopped tomatoes, juice and all. You can also add hot peppers, garlic, and tomatillos. Set all this up to simmer and turn back to the tongue.

skinning the tongue

The skin should just peel off. Discard.

Now we all know that a Mexican would never throw out the skin. I’ve eaten lengua tacos from New York City to LA, Tuscon to San Cristobal and there’s aways tongue skin right there in the taco. I’m not sure what they do differently, but it’s tender and juicy. If you want to eat the skin I understand. Thowing it out seems like a waste of protein. However, I can tell you that if you want to eat it you’ll have to find a different recipe. At this stage the skin just isn’t edible. It’s tough and chewy. It may only be a matter of cooking it longer or something. I don’t know, but please tell me if you do.

sliced tongue

Slice it cross wise.

lengua verde sauce simmering

Add the sliced tongue to the sauce and simmer until it thickens down. Salt to taste.

Lengua Verde served with rice and salad

Serve over rice with a salad.

Yummmm. Thanks Mom (and Phyllis)!

Shopping list:

  • Beef Tongue
  • Pickling Spices
  • Large Onion
  • Garlic
  • Poblano or Anehiem Peppers
  • Ortega Chilies
  • Large can of chopped tomatoes

4 Comments on “Lets Cooking! Lengua Verde”

  1. Peg Bowden says:

    I absolutely love tongue—and my mother used to make it several times/year. She served it with a creamy horseradish, and we usually had parsleyed potatoes with it. I think it is a German dish. Your sauce with the peppers sounds divine. I will try it this week. In our local market, (which is a few miles from the Mexican border), they ALWAYS have tongue, so finding it is no problema. One of my favorite street foods in Mexico is taco de lengua, served with peppers and chopped cabbage. Thanks for the great photos and the easy directions. Peg/Mom

  2. cheryl says:

    Great pictures, Joshua. They sure made me hungry for tongue. Maybe I’ll bring the makings when we come up soon if I can find a tongue. Your version sounds good too, Peg. Yumm

  3. Velella - the female half says:

    staying vegetarian…..

  4. John says:

    I just stumbled on to this. My parents used to boil the tongue and serve it cold with worchestershire sauce. However, I’ve gone to a crock pot method (8 hours on low with peppers, onions, tomatoes and spices). This leaves the entire tongue tender as butter and full of flavor, which makes it great for pulling and serving in corn tortillas or sandwiches. I always like to hear how others make it. Thanks!

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