Nose-to-Tail Eating: Have You Had Lengua?

Lengua is, of course, tongue. Specifically beef tongue, and it’s something that’s fairly common in Latin American cuisine. Unless you grew up with it, cooking and eating lengua can sound about as appealing as mud pie. But done right, lengua is a fantastic and tasty thing. It’s that “done right” part that gets tricky.

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Preparing lengua is not for the faint of foodie heart. This thing looks exactly like what it is: a gigantic tongue. There are taste buds and connective tissues and bunches of muscle. The skin covering the tongue has to be removed, and this is done by peeling it away either after a quick blanch in boiling water or once cooking is finished.

The biggest thing to remember is that the tongue is a hard working muscle. This means that it’s incredibly tough, but also very flavorful. It needs to be cooked slowly for several hours to give all the connective tissues and muscle fibers time to break down and become tender. Most preparations called for a long braise or several hours of boiling.

Even after cooking, tongue is best sliced thinly across the grain or chopped finely. Some people like the springy texture, but we’re personally in it for the rich meaty flavor.

Elise over at Simply Recipes has a great tutorial on preparing lengua, plus a delicious recipe for tacos de lengua. It’s worth taking a look!

Beef Tacos de Lengua from Simply Recipes

What are your favorite ways to eat lengua?

Related: What's the Deal with Offal?

(Image: Flickr members Stu_Spivack and rdmeylicensed under Creative Commons)