Tongue, as a Cold Cut

Let’s face it, they’re not pretty. They look like huge, well, tongues. So just don’t think about it being a tongue. Think of it as a culinary delicacy. Tongue is soft, tender, and lean, with a unique texture.

With very little work, you can turn this piece of cow into a fabulous “cold cut” for hors d’oeuvres. All you need to do is poach the tongue, just like you were poaching a chicken.

Not intended to offend anyone, but this is a tongue!

Beef Tongue

1 beef tongue, about 3 1/2 pounds, at room temperature
1 onion, quartered
3-4 stalks celery, quartered
10 baby carrots
1 leek, cleaned, quartered
1 bunch parsley
5 bay leaves
1 head of cloves, sliced horizontally
Handful of whole black pepper corns
2 teaspoons salt

Place all of the ingredients in a large pot. Add enough water to cover everything. Bring it all to a boil on the stove, then simmer, covered, for about 2 – 2 1/2 hours.

You could heat the broth ingredients first, and then add the tongue, but this way works well, and you do end up with a great meat plus a good broth. After cooking, remove the lid and let the mixture cool a bit, then remove the tongue and set on a plate to cool completely.

Remove the fatty chunk at the base of the tongue, but don’t discard it. Peel the tongue – especially the top part of it where you can see the taste buds. It doesn’t all work with the pinch and pull method; a paring knife comes in handy.

Slice the peeled tongue crosswise into 1/4 to 3/8″ slices. Tongue is good at room temperature, or cold. I love it with Dijon mustard and good bread.

The slices are wonderful as part of an charcuterie platter, along with cheeses, olives, and cornichons.

If you don’t want the tongue as a cold cut, sear the slices instead in hot skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper after turning. I sliced up that piece I cut off the tongue to make these non-uniform strips to sear.

I like to put these in flour tortillas and eat with onions and cilantro, and you can make a more involved filling like Rick Bayless’s creamy zucchini and corn. Or, serve the hot seared tongue with crispy potatoes and a couple over easy eggs.

Tongue is also good with pigs’ feet, but that’s another post!

Make sure to use this wonderful broth in another recipe! I added potatoes and leeks for a quicky soup!

By Published On: June 15th, 202161 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

61 Comments

  1. angiesrecipes June 15, 2021 at 7:05 AM - Reply

    They are my favourite. I eat tongue at least once a month…sometimes twice. Actually I just had some yesterday. Organ meat every day :-)) They are nutritious and so tasty! Pig’s feet are amazing too. My cat is a raw carnivore and he eats lots of chicken liver, heart and he is crazy for my beef tongue too. A very clever cat!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 7:08 AM - Reply

      I can’t make it often because my husband doesn’t like any of it even in the house! And I have no one to share it with. I grew up on liver and pigs feet and tongue and brains… and i wish i could have them more often!

  2. angiesrecipes June 15, 2021 at 7:07 AM - Reply

    p.s. That fatty chunk tastes the BEST!!!

  3. popsiclesociety June 15, 2021 at 7:47 AM - Reply

    It may not be beautiful but it is delicious 😋 My grandma used to do it and she used to cut it like this and we ate it with horseradish ☺️

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 10:42 AM - Reply

      Oh yeah! I can see that! You definitely have to get past the texture!

  4. ace1it June 15, 2021 at 7:56 AM - Reply

    I grew up on this coming from a farming family. My Mom would put it in the pressure cooker. We’d eat it room temp and would dip it in vinegar to eat the slices. Thanks for the memory, Mimi!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 10:41 AM - Reply

      Interesting! You have to eat all parts of the cow, of course! My mother used to mix chopped tongue with pigs’ feet and toss everything with a vinaigrette. It was wonderful.

  5. Jeff the Chef June 15, 2021 at 9:07 AM - Reply

    I’ve had tongue before, and liked it, but even so … I’m not sure i’m carniverous enough to prepare one!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 10:40 AM - Reply

      It’s like poaching a chicken! But it is a lot of meat, if no one else will eat it!

      • Ben Maclain|Havocinthekitchen June 15, 2021 at 5:30 PM

        I think many people could faint if they are offered some tongue (lol), but I’m a huge fan! I used to enjoy it quite often. It makes an excellent addition to some decadent and hearty salads (My favourite was with walnuts and prunes…well I know another ingredient that has a bad reputation!) Anyway, haven’t had it for years as it’s not so easy to find it here in Canada. But I definitely need to get my hands on some ASAP!

  6. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats June 15, 2021 at 11:07 AM - Reply

    You’ve really made the best out of this cut, and I admire you for cooking this! I’m far from squeamish when it comes to cooking, but this is one cut I can’t bring myself to cook… Maybe it’s also because I’m not much into the flavor and texture of it. Oh well, more for you! :)

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 11:20 AM - Reply

      It’s definitely a texture thing I imagine. Like people who won’t eat liver. I get it, but so glad it doesn’t bother me!!!

      • Ronit Penso Tasty Eats June 15, 2021 at 12:11 PM

        It is indeed. I have no problem with liver in any form, but not this… I feel so lucky, to have the privilege to be choosy! :)

      • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 1:00 PM

        We’re all choosy in our own ways. We all have the right to not like a food. Now, my mother never learned this lesson. She has always been mad that my husband didn’t like mayonnaise. Once when we visited, she shoved a slice of chocolate mayonnaise cake in front of him before we crossed the threshold. And was so happy when he said he liked it. 🙄

      • Ronit Penso Tasty Eats June 15, 2021 at 5:46 PM

        lol I’ll never understand this kind of thinking, but that’s a funny story! :)

  7. Liz June 15, 2021 at 12:50 PM - Reply

    I loved reading this Mimi, my mother used to make it just the way you describe. Organ meat seems to have gone out of favor but I love most of it, just not brains. I have tried them several times In France and can’t get past the texture.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 12:56 PM - Reply

      I’m not sure offal has been very popular in the US. It’s funny that you mention brains. It’s what I’d request for my birthday meal growing up! If can certainly see how texture is critical to people. Or, the lack thereof!

  8. Laura June 15, 2021 at 1:55 PM - Reply

    My parents, who grew up in Kansas, both ate tongue as young people. I’ve never tried it myself. About the only food I don’t really like is liver of any sort, so if it’s anything like that….I’d take a pass, but i’d love to try this sometime. I appreciate your detailed instructions for preparation. And, wow, that’s a big tongue!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 2:20 PM - Reply

      It was probably a pretty big cow! Liver and tongue textures are very different, but if you don’t like liver texture, you are probably like my friend who can’t eat any with texture. Well there’s plenty of other foods to love!

  9. cookingwithauntjuju.com June 15, 2021 at 3:16 PM - Reply

    I use to make liver and onions fried in bacon grease for Gene and I enjoyed it too – tongue? no thank you!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 3:21 PM - Reply

      No?!! You should try it! I love liver and onions. I make it occasionally for one!

  10. Mary June 15, 2021 at 5:21 PM - Reply

    I haven’t cooked a beef tongue but used to make sheep tongues in a raisin and mustard sauce – must find the recipe again. They were lovely. My mother used to cook the beef tongue when we were kids. We ate a lot of offal type meat then – cheap, times were tough!!
    We are better off these days and are more choosy. :))

  11. Ben Maclain|Havocinthekitchen June 15, 2021 at 5:31 PM - Reply

    I think many people could faint if they are offered some tongue (lol), but I’m a huge fan! I used to enjoy it quite often. It also makes an excellent addition to some decadent and hearty salads (My favourite was with walnuts and prunes…well I know another ingredient that has a bad reputation!) Anyway, haven’t had it for years as it’s not so easy to find it here in Canada. But I definitely need to get my hands on some ASAP!

  12. Ben Maclain|Havocinthekitchen June 15, 2021 at 5:33 PM - Reply

    I think many people could faint if they are offered some tongue (lol), but I’m a huge fan! I used to enjoy it quite often. It also makes an excellent addition to some decadent and hearty salads (My favourite was with walnuts and prunes…well I know another ingredient that has a bad reputation!) Anyway, haven’t had it for years as it’s not so easy to find it here in Canada. But I definitely need to get my hands on it ASAP!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 5:45 PM - Reply

      Wow. You need to blog about that salad! That sounds so unique! Are you referring to liver? I always loved brains and sweetbreads, but have never made them myself. I would have to have them shipped to me! I can get liver (chicken and beef) where I live, and also tripe, which I’ve never tried. But i live in beef country, close to Texas, so tongues are pretty available!

  13. Raymund June 15, 2021 at 5:50 PM - Reply

    I had toungue before in a dish called Lengua Estofado, they ar really delicious. What I havent tried yet is having them as a cold cut like your post above, maybe that will be in my to do list soon

    • chef mimi June 15, 2021 at 5:52 PM - Reply

      Interesting! Cause I just realized I’ve never had it warm, just chilled or at room temperature. If you liked it at all, you’d love it as a cold cut!

  14. BERNADETTE June 16, 2021 at 7:06 AM - Reply

    I believe in the toe to tail philosophy but I just can’t get my arms around tongue. My mother made me tongue sandwiches for school as a child. I would look in envy at my classmate’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    • chef mimi June 16, 2021 at 7:17 AM - Reply

      Oh no! Gosh, I bet tongue would be great in a sandwich – I never thought of that! Toe to tail does include a lot of different parts. You gotta embrace what you love!

  15. Ann Coleman June 16, 2021 at 8:18 AM - Reply

    I have to admit that tongues are hard for me. I understand it’s just another part of an animal that I already eat, but I just can’t do it. It’s the same with lamb…I don’t eat that either, simply because I can’t get the image of a real lamb out of my head when I hear it. I wonder if that’s why we call cow meat “beef” rather than simply “cow?”

    • chef mimi June 16, 2021 at 8:30 AM - Reply

      Oh, good point! Yes, I would hate to say I’m eating cow. 😕

  16. kitchenriffs June 16, 2021 at 9:55 AM - Reply

    When I was a kid I always saw tongue in the meat case in the supermarket. Nowadays, I never see it. Well never at the supermarket — I still see it at a couple of butcher shops I go to. I’ve never prepared it — always one of those things I’ve bought sliced at a deli (when I lived in the NYC area). This looks great — thanks.

    • chef mimi June 16, 2021 at 11:48 AM - Reply

      Ohhhh, delis in NYC. That would maybe be the only reason I’d live in NYC! And the great hole-in-the-wall restaurants! I think tongue is a Mexican specialty which is why it’s sold at the local grocery stores. I’m in Oklahoma.

  17. For the Love of Cooking June 16, 2021 at 11:18 AM - Reply

    I grew up eating tongue but haven’t had it since I was a kid. I’ve never thought of serving it this way!

    • chef mimi June 16, 2021 at 11:46 AM - Reply

      Oh! I haven’t had it many other ways, but this would be my favorite!

  18. Molly Pisula June 16, 2021 at 12:09 PM - Reply

    Eeesh! I can’t do it, Mimi, I just can’t do it. I’m sure it’s delicious, but I can’t get past the fact that it looks like, well, a tongue! But more power to those of you who can. If we’re going to eat animals, I’m totally in favor of not wasting anything. Maybe someday…

    • chef mimi June 16, 2021 at 3:08 PM - Reply

      No, not some day! You won’t change your dislike of serious texture, and tongues will never look different!

  19. lulu June 16, 2021 at 4:16 PM - Reply

    I would try it if I didn’t know what it was. You do make it sound tempting.

    • chef mimi June 16, 2021 at 4:17 PM - Reply

      Hahahaha! Yes, I do know what you mean!

  20. sherry June 17, 2021 at 12:12 AM - Reply

    i used to love tiny little lambs’ tongues from a tin when i was a child. i can’t imagine eating them now! i’m afraid this looks just too too much for me in my advanced years :)

    • chef mimi June 17, 2021 at 6:30 AM - Reply

      A lot of people have said that! It’s fine – there are plenty of other foods to enjoy!

  21. Karen (Back Road Journal) June 17, 2021 at 1:42 PM - Reply

    I had tongue once when a neighbor invited us over for a cocktail. I ate a piece or two to be polite but I didn’t care for the texture…the taste was just fine. We have a deli in our town and my husband often orders the tongue sandwich on rye.

  22. Karen (Back Road Journal) June 17, 2021 at 1:51 PM - Reply

    I forgot to mention that when we were invited for cocktails at our neighbors, it was the husband that had prepared the tongue and he served It just like you did with pickled vegetables. I remember eating more of the little bread slices and pickled vegetables than I did the tongue but I ate it. If I was at your home, I’d do the same thing. 😊

    • chef mimi June 17, 2021 at 2:33 PM - Reply

      Aww, well things like that don’t insult me, and I don’t usually try to freak people out either! My mother used to LOVE doing that. 🙄

  23. Marcelle June 17, 2021 at 7:43 PM - Reply

    Oh Chef Mimi!! 🙃 Your tongue “cold cuts” look amazing and my husband loves tongue meat. I’m not sure I could prepare it myself at home, however.😋 I definitely admire your culinary spirit of adventure and expertise in this post and the pictures are wonderful!! I’m sure the whole platter was delicious!!

    • chef mimi June 17, 2021 at 7:47 PM - Reply

      OHh, thank you! It’s nothing that seems adventurous to me, just because I was raised eating all kinds of things. But thank you for the compliment!

  24. Hannah Kaminsky June 18, 2021 at 7:11 AM - Reply

    Although I do find it mildly horrifying, I do appreciate the effort to waste nothing and honor the animal.

    • chef mimi June 18, 2021 at 7:37 AM - Reply

      I’m really surprised that you even commented !!!! And I can understand your horror. You’re not alone. Having a French mother, it really always was about nose to tail.

  25. David Scott Allen June 18, 2021 at 8:48 AM - Reply

    Tongue was always served in sandwiches in the Jewish delis near where I grew up. I loved it! I know it kind of freaks people out, but I just think it’s got such a great texture and flavor. This is making me want to check with the rancher at the farmers market to see if they have tongue…

    • chef mimi June 20, 2021 at 8:19 AM - Reply

      Yes, good Jewish food! I love the texture as well. That’s what makes it so great! There has to be a tongue or two available… you’d think….

  26. Our Growing Paynes June 18, 2021 at 9:26 AM - Reply

    Bold choice but I have heard, if done right, it can be really good. It’s on my list to give it a go someday. This ingredient isn’t easy to find round here.

    • chef mimi June 20, 2021 at 8:18 AM - Reply

      Since I live in Oklahoma, there is a significant Mexican population, so that’s why I see tongue on a pretty regular basis. I can imagine in northern states it’s not available.

      • Our Growing Paynes June 25, 2021 at 8:35 AM

        Maybe closer to bigger cities but not round here. Unless I could get it from local farmers. Hmmm.

  27. neil@neilshealthymeals.com June 20, 2021 at 2:31 AM - Reply

    It’s a shame that people don’t make the use of all parts of animals that we eat nowadays. I mean I love what you’ve done here Mimi. Creating a beautiful cold meat platter using tongue. Did you ever cook with an Ox’s tail before? My mum used to make wonderful Ox Tail soup. Now she can’t get the tail from her local butcher anymore unfortunately.

    • chef mimi June 20, 2021 at 8:17 AM - Reply

      I’ve tried to get ox tail, but to no avail. I just wanted the experience. The US isn’t on the toe-to-tail bandwagon as much as European countries, sadly, but because of our Mexican population, I see tongue regularly.

  28. Tandy | Lavender and Lime June 21, 2021 at 1:57 AM - Reply

    My grandmother used to make tongue for Jewish High Holy Days. I have never tried, and sadly doubt I will as Dave will not eat it :)

    • chef mimi June 21, 2021 at 8:35 AM - Reply

      Yes, I understand that. My Dave won’t either. 🙄

  29. 2pots2cook June 21, 2021 at 5:16 AM - Reply

    We make sandwiched with smoked beef tongue and it’s very, very tasty ! Must try your version ! Thank you Mimi !

    • chef mimi June 21, 2021 at 8:35 AM - Reply

      Oh, smoked! I’ve never done that! Thanks!

  30. Avram June 24, 2022 at 1:01 AM - Reply

    Do you discard the vegetables or leave them in the broth?

    • Chef Mimi June 24, 2022 at 7:13 AM - Reply

      I eventually remove them from the broth, but I use the broth. It’s quite tasty!!!

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