"Beef tongue is simple to prepare and has a flavour and texture just like steak. The trick to this dish, a classic in Mexico, is to make sure you get a nice golden crust when frying the slices." Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat
- 1 beef tongue (see Note)
- 2 large onions, cut in half
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 2 tbsp salt
- pork fat or vegetable oil, for frying
- corn tortillas, 2–3 per person
- suggested toppings: diced avocado, coriander sprigs, finely sliced red onion, finely sliced radish, charred sweetcorn, pickled tomatillos, feta, lime wedges, chilli sauce, salsa
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 1 hour
Place the tongue in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat then drain. Return the tongue to the pan, add the onions, garlic, carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt, cover with cold water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Skim off the impurities that rise to the surface, reduce the heat to low, then cover and cook for 3 hours or until the tongue is soft and tender. Add extra water if needed to ensure the tongue remains submerged during cooking. Using a metal skewer, check if the meat is done – it should pierce easily. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool in its own liquid.
Remove the tongue from the poaching liquid (this can be saved for another use). Using a small sharp knife, slit the rough outer membrane of the tongue and peel it away with your fingers. It should come off fairly easily. Discard the membrane. There’s also a rough patch of meat at the bottom the tongue, where it attached to the mouth – cut that off too, as it’s pretty tough.
Chop the tongue into bite-size pieces. If you don’t want to use it right away, you can refrigerate the tongue in an airtight container, covered with the poaching liquid, for a few days
Heat the fat or oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. Fry the tongue pieces until a golden crust develops. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan – you might need to do this in a couple of batches. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside and keep warm while you prepare the tortillas.
Soften the tortillas by either placing them in a dry pan or onto a hotplate until they start to scorch and puff up a little. Wrap the hot tortillas in a clean tea towel while you finish heating the others. To serve, place a large spoonful or two of meat in the centre of each tortilla, then add your desired toppings.
• You may need to order the tongue from your butcher ahead of time. Make sure it’s fresh and not pickled.
Photography and styling by Michelle Crawford.