Grilled Ox Tongue with Pesto & Tomato

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Sugar Club Cookbook

By Peter Gordon

Published 1997

  • About

Gran often had a jellied tongue in her larder and it was one of the few things she made that I didn’t like. It was years later, when I made my first brawn, that I discovered the joys of this meat. Here the smoky richness of the grilled tongue is complemented by the acidity of the tomato and the flavour-packed pesto. Make the pesto, adding 3 tablespoons of fresh tarragon to the recipe. One ox tongue will give you enough for 12 generous starters or six main courses.


  • 1 ox tongue (buy pickled and rinse under cold water for a few minutes)
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 medium-sized onion, cut into quarters with the skin on
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 12 sage leaves
  • 1 8cm (3in) rosemary branch
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 100ml (fl oz) vinegar
  • 1—2 very ripe tomatoes per person
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pesto


First, cook your tongue. Put all the ingredients except the tomatoes, seasoning and pesto into a large pot and cover with cold water. It’s important that the tongue floats, so make sure there is enough water. Bring to the boil and skim off any foam that forms on the surface, then turn down to a rapid simmer and cover. Cook for at least 90 minutes and check from time to time that the water hasn’t reduced too much; top up with hot water if it has. To test if the tongue is cooked try to peel off some of the skin: it should come off easily. Once it is done, remove the pot from the heat and leave to cool. When cooled, take the tongue and peel away the tough skin with your fingers. Trim off any bits of fat and sinew and cut into 1cm (in) slices.

Heat up a grill. Cut the tomatoes into 1cm (in) slices and season lightly. Grill the tongue until it starts to colour, then turn over and repeat on the other side. Serve the warm tongue on the tomato slices with a generous dollop of pesto to top it off. You may also want to serve a bowl of hot mustard on the side.