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.
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.
Boil it all until the tongue is tender.
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.
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.
Slice it cross wise.
Add the sliced tongue to the sauce and simmer until it thickens down. Salt to taste.
Serve over rice with a salad.
Yummmm. Thanks Mom (and Phyllis)!
- Beef Tongue
- Pickling Spices
- Large Onion
- Poblano or Anehiem Peppers
- Ortega Chilies
- Large can of chopped tomatoes