Lengua Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

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Preparation info

  • Makes


    tacos, with some meat left over.
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Amor y Tacos

Amor y Tacos

By Deborah Schneider

Published 2010

  • About

Lengua (beef tongue) is much loved by Mexicans, who will go out of their way to visit a stand that serves it, but it is alien to most Americans, who will go out of their way to avoid it. Tongue may well be the weirdest thing you will ever have in your kitchen, but it is worth the shock value and the time it takes to cook it—the meat is delicious—rich and tender. The cooking process is lengthy but simple: a long simmer, followed by cooling in the cooking stock, then a thorough trimming. Serve these taco-stand style with a bit of cooking juice, and the traditional garnishes of roasted tomatillo salsa, and raw white onions mixed with cilantro. The recipe yields about 2 pounds of meat after trimming. Any leftovers may be used in a salpicón of fresh bell peppers, onions, and capers tossed with olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lime juice.


  • 1 beef tongue (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 20 whole black peppercorns
  • 6 whole allspice
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 white onion, peeled and left whole
  • 2 heads garlic, washed and cut in half crosswise at about the middle
  • 12 warm corn tortillas
  • Roasted tomatillo salsa or salsa verde
  • Diced white onions mixed with chopped cilantro


  1. Rinse the tongue and place it in a large pot with water to cover it by several inches. Add the bay leaves, spices, onion, and garlic. Using a heatproof plate to keep the meat underwater, bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat. Cover it and cook for 5 hours, or until very tender when pierced with a knife. Check occasionally while the tongue is cooking to make sure the meat is still submerged in the stock. If necessary, add more water. Set the pot aside so that the tongue can cool in the cooking liquid for 1 hour. Measure 1 cup of the cooking broth and set it aside.
  2. Peel the tongue by pulling away the skin, then use a sharp knife to trim the tongue completely on the top and bottom, removing all fat and strange bits.
  3. Slice the tongue thinly and keep it warm in the reserved cooking broth while you assemble the tacos. Alternatively, at this point, the meat may be refrigerated in the broth and gently rewarmed when you are ready to serve.
  4. Place a portion of meat onto a tortilla, then top it with the salsa and onion-and-cilantro mix.