Veal Tongue with Green Olives

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Though it hasn't been a fashionable meat for some time, I have a real soft spot for tongue. I grew up with it as a winter dish, so I always think of it as warming and “consoling.” When I discovered this Tunisian tongue dish garnished with green olives, it was love at first taste.

The succulent, suave, cracked green meski olive is the one used in Tunisia; elongated, bright green picholine olives from France and Morocco may be substituted.


  • 1 fresh veal tongue
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Coarse salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 thin slices of onion
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 5 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 5 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 7 garlic cloves—2 crushed, 5 peeled but left whole
  • 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 2 cups warm water
  • 5 imported bay leaves
  • 6 to 7 ounces pitted green olives


  1. One day in advance, rinse the fresh tongue under cold running water; drain, rub with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and a handful of coarse salt, and rinse well. Place the tongue in a deep pot, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to a boil, and skim. Simmer the tongue for 40 minutes, then drain, discarding the liquid.
  2. In a bowl or covered container, combine the olive oil, onion slices, thyme, parsley, ground coriander, paprika, crushed garlic, and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice to make a marinade.
  3. When the tongue is cool enough to handle, slit around the edges and peel away the top tough skin. Cut away the gristle and fat. Put the tongue in the bowl with the marinade and rub it into the meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight
  4. The following day, scrape as much of the aromatic oil as possible from the marinade off the tongue into a 5- or 6-quart flameproof casserole. Heat the aromatic oil, add the whole garlic cloves, and cook until they are golden brown, then remove and discard. Put the whole tongue, diluted tomato paste, and bay leaves in the casserole. Bring to a boil, cover with a sheet of foil or crumpled wet parchment paper, and a lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the tongue is very tender, about 2½ hours.
  5. While the tongue is cooking, blanch the olives to remove any bitterness; drain. When the tongue is tender, remove to a wooden carving board and cut away any remaining skin. Completely degrease the cooking juices, add the olives, and bring to a boil. Correct the seasoning of the sauce. Thinly slice the tongue, nap with the sauce, and surround with the olives.