Beef tongue tacos with a bright and colorful spring time salsa
Braising the Tongue
1 beef tongue (3-5lbs)
1 whole onion, roughly chopped
3 TBL whole peppercorns
1 bunch of cilantro
4 bay leaves
1 whole lime, sliced in half
3 TBL high quality salt (Celtic, Redmond, Baja gold)
1–2 poblano peppers (optional)
Beef tongue meat shredded with a fork
8 corn tortillas
1/2 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1 rhubarb stalk, diced
1/2 cup strawberries, diced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
juice of one lime
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 cup queso fresco
sour cream (for garnishing)
optional additions: squeeze of lime juice, avocado, chipotle sauce, jalapeños
Braising the Tongue
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large Dutch oven or stock pot place the beef tongue, bunch of cilantro, bay leaves, peppercorns, onion, limes, salt, and optional poblano peppers.
Fill the pot with filtered water, enough to deeply submerge the beef tongue. Tongue soaks up a lot of water when cooking, it is possible you will need to add more water halfway through the braise.
Cover the pot with the lid and place in the warmed oven for 4-5 hours. Check the tongue at the 2hr mark to make sure there is enough water, add more water if necessary.
When finished braising, remove the pot from the oven and save the tongue broth. Use it for cooking other meals or for drinking.
Remove the tongue and place in a bowl to let it cool. It will need to be fairly cool so you can peel it then shred it.
Assembling the Tongue Tacos
While the tongue is cooling, make the salsa for the tacos and warm the tortillas.
Begin by blanching the rhubarb. This is done to remove some of the sour rhubarb flavor and make it easier to digest. Bring a pot of water to boil, chop the rhubarb into large chunks and add to the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute (if you boil longer it will become mushy and gross) remove from the boiling water and drain and cool.
Once the rhubarb has cooled, pat it dry then dice and add to the salsa bowl.
Dice the grape tomatoes, strawberries, cilantro, bell pepper. Add all ingredients to the salsa bowl.
Once all the veggies and fruit have been chopped, add the red wine vinegar, honey, and juice of one lime. Salt to taste. Set aside to let the flavors combine.
To warm the tortillas, using tongs, place them directly onto a gas stove flame one at a time. Let the tortilla sit for 2 minutes then flip to char and heat up the other side for one more minute. Place charred and warmed tortillas inside a folded towel to keep warm. If you do not have a gas stove, simply heat them up on a pan on the stove.
Once the salsa has been made and tortillas are warmed, check on the beef tongue to see if it is cool enough to touch. If sufficiently cooled, begin by peeling the outer layer of the beef tongue.
Place the tongue on a cutting board and slide the tip of the knife under the skin at the tip of the tongue, until you have loosened a large enough portion onto which you can get a grip. Grasp the skin firmly between thumb and forefinger, using a clean cloth, if desired, for better grip. Pull back on the skin, peeling it from the tongue. It should come easily, with only moderate force.
Repeat for the rest of the skin. Turn the tongue so you can see the thicker portion at the base. There will be several pieces of gristle there, which will be plainly visible. Remove these as well, with the knife. The tongue is now ready for use or may be wrapped and refrigerated or used immediately
At this time, the tongue is ready to be shredded. This can be done with two forks simply pulling apart the meat or with your fingers. If it has been cooked sufficiently, it should shred easily and resemble a pulled pork consistency. Once the tongue is shredded, set aside and begin assembling the tacos.
Take a warmed tortilla and first add the tongue meat, then the salsa, then some sour cream and top with queso fresco and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!
There are many different variations to the salsa, feel free to mix it up and use the veggies or fruits you have on hand and seasonal in your region.