Recipe: Tacos de Lengua (Cow Tongue Tacos)

Tacos de Lengua Recipe

One of my favorite cut of meats is the cow's tongue. It's commonly used in Mexican cuisine, often in "tacos de lengua". The meat is extremely tender after simmering it for a few hours. The taste of tongue itself is mildly beefy, so it can pack in a lot of flavor from the seasonings it's cooked with. 

I love going out for tacos, but making my own tacos de lengua is just so much more satisfying. I can cook it to my preferred tenderness, season it the way I like, and eat as much as I want. This is one of our favorite meals that I've made countless times. It's truly worth the effort to make at home.

Tacos de Lengua

Makes about 18 small tacos

Ingredients: 

Simmering

  • 1 3-4 lb beef tongue
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped into quarters
  • 1 head of garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 6-7 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp of peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt

Seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp lard
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet yellow onions
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Tacos

Ingredients below are optional for serving

  • Tortillas
  • Queso Fresco
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Radishes
  • Avocados
  • Corn
  • Salsa (Salsa Verde or Tatemada)

Directions: 

  1. Thoroughly wash the tongue.
  2. In a large stock pot (12 quart), add in all the simmering ingredients - the beef tongue, onions, garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 hours or until the tongue is soft and can easily be pierced with a fork without resistance.  
  3. Remove the tongue from the pot (do not discard the stock, you'll need some of it later) and let cool for about 15 minutes or until easy to handle. Remove the tough, light colored outer membrane from the tongue by making a small incision at the tip of the tongue and peeling it off, discard. You want to be sure to do this while the tongue is still hot but easy to handle so it's easier to peel. 
  4. Roughly chop the tongue in 1/2" pieces. Heat oil or lard in a large non-stick over medium-high heat. Add diced onions and cook until onions are translucent, then add in minced garlic and cook for about a minute until soft. Add tongue pieces and some of the reserved broth (I add enough broth to barely cover the meat). Add oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt. Cook and stir the tongue until the broth reduces and thickens, add the lime juice, taste and season as needed. 
  5. Top warm tortillas as desired and enjoy.

 

 

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Patrick's Favorite Three-Layer Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Recipe

It was Patrick's birthday last week, which by coincidence is also St. Patrick's Day. Every year when March 17 arrives, I can look forward to eating three things: corned beef, colcannon, and a chocolate sour cream cake.

I had never heard of sour cream cake until six years ago when I had my first slice, and it was life changing. I instantly understood why this was Patrick's favorite cake. There's really nothing else quite like it - three heavenly layers of moist and fluffy chocolate cake, frosted with thick and fluffy, lightly sweetened whipped cream.

If the idea of sour cream in a cake is weird, it's really like adding in any other dairy into a cake, like milk or buttermilk. The sour cream gives the cake a balance of acidity and fat that makes it moist and light in texture.

Patrick's mom has been making this particular chocolate sour cream cake for him since he was a kid. She was out of town this year, so I took the day off from work to bake. I must warn you that while straight-forward, this recipe is a little difficult to nail. The first time I made this cake a few years ago, it tasted good but wasn't up to par to his mom's because I wasn't consistent in beating the batter.

In this recent attempt, I messed up on the first batter due to not properly timing the melted chocolate before incorporating it, so I had to start all over again. My advice is to get enough ingredients in case you need to do a second attempt and to follow the directions precisely - timing is everything. 

I am happy that my final attempt turned out pretty freakin' close to his mom's cake! It was so good that Patrick and I devoured 75% of the cake ourselves within a week. The remaining 25% went to his dad and brother.  

This cake has become one of my favorites and I'm pretty sure it will become your favorite as well.

Three-Layer Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

By Rebecca Linkous adapted from San Francisco A La Carte: Junior League San Francisco 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cake flour (I use Softasilk)      
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup regular sour cream
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted (I use Guittard - very crucial to let this cool near room temperature before adding to bowl - read step 2 below)
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs

ICING

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Measure all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.  I usually add the chocolate last since I am still cooling it at the last minute.  If you do not cool the chocolate properly (close to room temperature) and you add it to the cold ingredients like sour cream, water or eggs, it will go solid and cause you to have a chocolate chip cake.  Trust me, it is ugly and does not taste the same. 
  3. Beat all ingredients for ½ minute on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Then beat for 3 minutes at highest speed.  Batter should be a really thick consistency.  
  4. Pour into 3 – 8” greased and floured cake pans. I highly recommend covering the bottom of the pans with waxed paper to stop the sticking. 
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. 

ICING

  1. Beat 1 1/2 pints of heavy whipping cream with 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar until extremely thick.  
  2. Slather this on each layer thick and even thicker on the outside.  Then shave a nice milk chocolate bar on top with a peeler. It is important to work quickly and then refrigerate the cake or the icing will run away.

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Recipe: David Lebovitz's Persimmon Bread

Persimmon bread is something that I look forward to making when it's persimmon season. My friend John introduced me to this boozy persimmon bread recipe from David Lebovitz  two years ago and I've been in love with it since.

A photo posted by Brenda Ton Linkous (@nerb) on

Patrick brought home a couple of boxes of beautiful sugary hachiya persimmons from work several weeks ago and they're ripening up so fast that we just can't keep up with the pace of consuming them all before they go bad. So, I scooped out the pulp of all the ripe hachiyas, used some to make this bread and stored the rest of them in individual containers to freeze. It's great because we now have hachiya pulp that we can enjoy year round without waiting for the next season to come - and without waiting for them to ripen up (which we all know takes forever). 

This persimmon bread is originally from James Beard, but adapted by David Lebovitz. The version I'm sharing below is how my friend John makes his, which incorporates two types of sugar and requires soaking of the dried fruits in orange juice overnight so it prevents the bread from drying out. The results - buttery and moist with just the right amount of booze. 

Persimmon Bread

Two 9-inch (23cm) Loaves

Using the higher amount of sugar will produce a moister and, of course, sweeter bread.

Adapted from David Lebovitz / Beard on Bread by James Beard

Ingredients: 

  • 3½ cups sifted flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Cognac, bourbon or whiskey (I used Old Taylor bourbon)
  • 2 cups persimmon puree (from about 4 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
  • 2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 2 cups raisins or diced dried fruits (such as apricots, cranberries, or dates) soaked in fresh orange juice over night

Directions: 

  1. Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) degrees.
  3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins.
  5. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Storage: Will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature. The Persimmon Breads take well to being frozen, too.

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