How to Cook a Beef or Ox Tongue

Whole cooked beef tongue
Whole cooked beef tongue

Whether you call it beef tongue, ox tongue, or even a cow's tongue, it can not be disputed that many people find the idea of cooking and eating it extremely distasteful. Like many other types of offal, however, tongue is exceptionally tender and delicious when it is cooked properly. This page will firstly look at how to prepare a tongue for cooking, how to cook it and then go on to explore a number of different delicious recipes and ways to serve it. When you are buying a tongue, try to buy one on the small side - about two or three pounds - and it is likely to prove most tender.

Tips for Buying a Beef Tongue - Make Friends with your Butcher!

Fully cleaned and prepared beef tongue
Fully cleaned and prepared beef tongue

Whatever type of meat you are buying, it always pays in the long term to get to know a local, quality butcher and to be able to trust their advice as well as their service. Be loyal to these small business owners and you will reap the benefits ten times over and more in the long term.

Buying a beef tongue with no prior knowledge can see you buying a piece of meat with bone remnants in it, as well as tough outer skin that will take a lot of time and effort to remove. In this instance, the beef tongue was bought ready to be steeped and easily cooked. No totally unnecessary procedures - so often referred to in complex, online recipes - were required. Please believe that this saves you a lot of wholly avoidable work.

Steeping the Beef Tongue

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Cleaned beef tongueBeef tongue placed in large plastic bowlWater is added to cover beef tongueLid is placed on beef tongue in water
Cleaned beef tongue
Cleaned beef tongue
Beef tongue placed in large plastic bowl
Beef tongue placed in large plastic bowl
Water is added to cover beef tongue
Water is added to cover beef tongue
Lid is placed on beef tongue in water
Lid is placed on beef tongue in water

Wash the beef tongue under running cold water. Put it in to a large bowl and add enough cold water to ensure it is completely covered. Put the lid on the bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Traditional Kitchen Scales

EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale, Red
EatSmart Precision Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale, Red

While electronic, digital, precision scales are more common in modern times, these traditional kitchen scales still have their advantages. Above all, they are not electronic so where they are looked after properly, they can easily last a lifetime and not be prone to burn out after a few short years. They have a large weighing basin for weighing large pieces of meat or quantities of ingredients and a clear, easy to read face which lets you see the weight immediately both in imperial and metric measurements.

 

Weighing the Tongue

Recipes in the UK and in Europe are quoted by weight, either metric or British imperial. This means that most homes have a set of weighing scales in their kitchen. As North American recipes are quoted by volume, it may be the case that you don't have such an item in your kitchen and have managed quite well without them. When you are cooking meat, however, the weight above all else determines the cooking time and when you know the weight of a chicken, a leg of lamb or in this case a beef tongue, it is much easier to calculate how long it will take to cook to perfection, meaning you need to spend considerably less time checking on its progress. If you don't have a set of scales, consider making a small investment and help make so many kitchen tasks that little bit easier.

Beef tongue should be cooked for one hour per pound of weight, so weighing it allows you to see the cooking time at a glance. This means you can get it cooking and go away and leave it to its own devices for the prescribed period of time
Beef tongue should be cooked for one hour per pound of weight, so weighing it allows you to see the cooking time at a glance. This means you can get it cooking and go away and leave it to its own devices for the prescribed period of time

How to Cook the Beef Tongue

Whole beef tongue cooked by poaching
Whole beef tongue cooked by poaching

Cook Time

Prep time: Overnight

Cook time: 1 hour per pound in weight

Ready in: Calculated by weight of tongue

Yields: 4 to 8 generous meal portions, depending upon size

Ingredients

  • 1 whole cleaned and steeped beef/ox tongue
  • 1 large carrot, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 sticks of celery, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Cold water as required

NB - You will perhaps note the absence of salt in the above list of ingredients. This is not an oversight. Tongue is unfortunately a type of meat which can go tough if it is cooked at too high a temperature. As salt draws the moisture from meat with a similar effect, no chances should be taken.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Beef tongue has been steeped in cold water overnight in the fridgeBeef tongue is added to a large pot for poachingVegetables and seasonings are added to the pot with the beef tongueCold water is added to the pot until the beef tongue is comfortably coveredBeef tongue is covered and left to simmer gentlyBeef tongue at the end of the cooking period
Beef tongue has been steeped in cold water overnight in the fridge
Beef tongue has been steeped in cold water overnight in the fridge
Beef tongue is added to a large pot for poaching
Beef tongue is added to a large pot for poaching
Vegetables and seasonings are added to the pot with the beef tongue
Vegetables and seasonings are added to the pot with the beef tongue
Cold water is added to the pot until the beef tongue is comfortably covered
Cold water is added to the pot until the beef tongue is comfortably covered
Beef tongue is covered and left to simmer gently
Beef tongue is covered and left to simmer gently
Beef tongue at the end of the cooking period
Beef tongue at the end of the cooking period
  1. Take the beef tongue from the fridge and remove the lid from the poaching vessel. You will see that blood has leaked from the tongue. Lift the tongue from the water and rinse briefly under running cold water. Weigh the tongue to calculate the cooking time before laying it in the base of a large soup or stock pot for poaching. This tongue weighed just under 2¾ pounds, so at one hour's cooking time per pound, needed just under 2¾ hours to cook.
  2. Put the vegetables and seasonings in to the pot with the tongue. Pour in enough cold water to comfortably cover the tongue.
  3. Put the pot on to a high heat until the water just starts to simmer. Cover the pot and set the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer for the prescribed cooking time. You should check every so often that the water is not simmering too rapidly or the tongue will become tough. Equally, ensure it does not go off the simmer altogether.
  4. At the end of the cooking time, take a metal skewer and pierce the tongue at its thickest part. The skewer should slide in easily with only very minimal resistance. If not, a little longer is required but the hour per pound guideline really does work very well.
  5. Lift the tongue from the pot with a carving fork and a large spatula to a large, deep dish. Leave it for half an hour to an hour (depending on size) to rest and become cool enough that you can comfortably handle it.

How to Skin and Carve a Beef Tongue

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Skinned beef tonguePreparing to carve a beef tongueCarving a whole beef tongueCarved beef tonguePreparing to refrigerate beef tongue
Skinned beef tongue
Skinned beef tongue
Preparing to carve a beef tongue
Preparing to carve a beef tongue
Carving a whole beef tongue
Carving a whole beef tongue
Carved beef tongue
Carved beef tongue
Preparing to refrigerate beef tongue
Preparing to refrigerate beef tongue
  1. Peel the skin off the tongue and discard. There is a thin, dimpled membrane under the skin which is perfectly edible but difficult to remove without damaging the meat. It's down to personal preference but in this instance it was simply left in place.
  2. Lay the tongue on a chopping board and use a carving knife to slice across the way to a thickness of anywhere between a quarter and half an inch. The tongue should be beautifully tender and carve easily.
  3. Any of the tongue which is not to be used immediately can be stored in a large plastic dish in the fridge for up to a couple of days.

Strain and Reserve the Beef Tongue Stock

Beef tongue stock is strained through a colander or sieve
Beef tongue stock is strained through a colander or sieve

The stock formed by cooking the beef tongue should not simply be discarded. Instead, strain it through a colander and either store in the fridge for a day or so or the deep freeze for up to three months. You can use it to make soup (see further down this page) or virtually in any way you would use conventional beef stock.

How Nutritious is Poached Beef Tongue?

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 85g
Calories 241
Calories from Fat171
% Daily Value *
Fat 19 g29%
Saturated fat 7 g35%
Protein 16 g32%
Cholesterol 112 mg37%
Sodium 55 mg2%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Beef Tongue, Roast Potatoes, Peas and Sweetcorn Recipe

Still warm slices of beef tongue are served with pan roasted baby potatoes and a combination of peas and sweetcorn
Still warm slices of beef tongue are served with pan roasted baby potatoes and a combination of peas and sweetcorn

Cook Time

  • Prep time: 40 min
  • Cook time: 40 min
  • Ready in: 1 hour 20 min
  • Yields: One serving

Ingredients

  • 6 or 7 baby new potatoes
  • 4 slices beef tongue
  • 1 tbsp frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp canned sweetcorn

Instructions

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Peeling the boiled and cooled potatoesRoast oes are drained briefly on kitchen paperpotatBeef tongue slices are plated
Peeling the boiled and cooled potatoes
Peeling the boiled and cooled potatoes
Roast oes are drained briefly on kitchen paperpotat
Roast oes are drained briefly on kitchen paperpotat
Beef tongue slices are plated
Beef tongue slices are plated
  1. Put the potatoes unpeeled in to a pot of cold salted water. Bring to a simmer for half an hour. Drain and return to the empty pot to cool.
  2. When the potatoes are cool, peel the skin off with your fingers. Deep fry them for about five minutes until nicely crisped and golden.
  3. Put the peas in to a pot of boiling water for three minutes, adding the sweetcorn for the final minute, just to heat through.
  4. Lift the potatoes to a plate laid with kitchen paper to drain. The peas and sweetcorn should be drained through a colander at the sink.
  5. Lay the beef tongue slices on a plate. Add the potatoes and the peas and sweetcorn, along with any pickles or condiments of choice.

Cold Beef Tongue and Dijon Mustard Sandwich

A simple sandwich incorporating leftover beef tongue and Dijon mustard
A simple sandwich incorporating leftover beef tongue and Dijon mustard

Elaborate sandwich recipes and creations are all good and well but there are equally times when a sandwich's inherent simplicity allows the flavours of the principal component(s) to be enjoyed at their very best. That is the case in this basic but delicious beef tongue sandwich.

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: n/a

Ready in: 5 min

Yields: One sandwich

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of very fresh bread
  • Butter for bread (optional)
  • 2 or 3 slices of cooled beef tongue or as required
  • Dijon mustard

Instructions

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Bread slices are lightly buttered on one side onlyBeef tongue slices are cut to size where necessary and laid on one slice of the breadDijon mustard is spread on the beef tongue
Bread slices are lightly buttered on one side only
Bread slices are lightly buttered on one side only
Beef tongue slices are cut to size where necessary and laid on one slice of the bread
Beef tongue slices are cut to size where necessary and laid on one slice of the bread
Dijon mustard is spread on the beef tongue
Dijon mustard is spread on the beef tongue
  1. Lay the bread slices on a chopping board and lightly butter.
  2. If necessary, cut the slices of beef tongue to size and arrange in a single layer on one slice of the bread.
  3. Spread the beef tongue with Dijon mustard before placing the second slice of bread on top and halving diagonally.

Beef Tongue Soup Recipe with Green Lentils and Red Onion

Beef tongue, green lentil and red onion soup
Beef tongue, green lentil and red onion soup

When your stock from cooking the beef tongue has cooled - particularly in the fridge overnight - you will find that solid, fat impurities have formed on the surface, as seen in the image below. These can easily be skimmed off with a large spoon or ladle and discarded.

Fat and many other impurities have solidified on top of the chilled beef tongue stock
Fat and many other impurities have solidified on top of the chilled beef tongue stock

Before you proceed to make the soup, however, it is still important to strain the stock to get a clear broth. If you are in any doubt about the need to do this, look at the photo immediately below and the impurities trapped in the kitchen paper. In order to strain the stock, line a sieve with a few sheets of kitchen paper and suspend it over a clean bowl. Pour in the cooled stock in stages and let it drain.

Remaining impurities are strained from beef tongue stock to leave a clear broth for making soup
Remaining impurities are strained from beef tongue stock to leave a clear broth for making soup

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 40 min

Ready in: 1 hour

Yields: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 pints beef tongue broth
  • ½lb green lentils, rinsed in a sieve under running cold water
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
  • ½lb cooked beef tongue, roughly chopped/diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley to garnish

Instructions

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Strained beef tongue stockGreen lentilsSlicing red onionGreen lentils and red onion are added to hot beef tongue brothDiced beef tongue for soupBeef tongue is added to soup to heat throughBeef tongue, green lentil and red onion soup is plated
Strained beef tongue stock
Strained beef tongue stock
Green lentils
Green lentils
Slicing red onion
Slicing red onion
Green lentils and red onion are added to hot beef tongue broth
Green lentils and red onion are added to hot beef tongue broth
Diced beef tongue for soup
Diced beef tongue for soup
Beef tongue is added to soup to heat through
Beef tongue is added to soup to heat through
Beef tongue, green lentil and red onion soup is plated
Beef tongue, green lentil and red onion soup is plated
  1. Pour the beef tongue broth in to a large soup pot and bring to a simmer. Add the lentils and the sliced red onion. Season well - remember, there was no salt added to the original cooking of the beef tongue.
  2. Bring back to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for half an hour.
  3. Add the beef tongue for a couple of minutes, simply to heat through.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
  5. Ladle in to serving bowls and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Jellied Beef Tongue Tureen Recipe (Day One)

Chopped beef tongue and seasonings are added to a tureen before stock with gelatine is poured over the top
Chopped beef tongue and seasonings are added to a tureen before stock with gelatine is poured over the top

A tureen of any type is usually a much grander affair than this little mini option but it proved a tasty adaptation of a beef tongue recipe, served the following day with a simple salad. One point to watch out for when making a tureen like this is the quantity of gelatine the pack advises you to use. Many packs give instructions for using the gelatine to thicken sauces or desserts. This is insufficient for making a meat tureen so use one and a half times the strength of mix or even double to ensure your tureen sets properly. The quantities in this recipe are also difficult to define as they depend on the size of your dish, so they should be taken as guidelines only and you should simply use what is required to fill your tureen.

Cook Time

Prep time: 20 min plus overnight in the fridge to set

Cook time: 5 min

Ready in: Overnight

Yields: 2 to 4 servings

  • ¼ pint strained beef tongue stock (see further up page)
  • 1 or 2 gelatine leaves
  • 4 or 5 slices of beef tongue roughly chopped - enough to fill tureen to within half an inch of the top
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

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Strained stock is gently heatedGelatine leaf or leaves soaking in cold waterTureen is lined with clingfilmRoughly chopped beef tongueBeef tongue is added to the tureenJellied beef tongue tureen is ready for an overnight in the fridge
Strained stock is gently heated
Strained stock is gently heated
Gelatine leaf or leaves soaking in cold water
Gelatine leaf or leaves soaking in cold water
Tureen is lined with clingfilm
Tureen is lined with clingfilm
Roughly chopped beef tongue
Roughly chopped beef tongue
Beef tongue is added to the tureen
Beef tongue is added to the tureen
Jellied beef tongue tureen is ready for an overnight in the fridge
Jellied beef tongue tureen is ready for an overnight in the fridge
  1. Put the strained stock on to a gentle heat until it reaches a simmer.
  2. Steep the gelatine in cold water for five minutes.
  3. Turn the heat off under the stock. Lift the gelatine from the water and squeeze out the excess moisture. Add it to the hot stock and leave for two minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon and leave to partially cool for about ten minutes.
  4. Line the base of your tureen with clingfilm and add the beef tongue (seasoned with salt and pepper) to within half an inch of the top. Press down lightly but not too much as the stock has to be able to penetrate all the way down and set the tureen.
  5. Pour the stock in to the tureen to completely cover the tongue. Put the lid on the dish and transfer to the fridge for an overnight.

Jellied Beef Tongue with Salad and Pickles

A thick slice of jellied beef tongue is served with a simple salad and pickles
A thick slice of jellied beef tongue is served with a simple salad and pickles

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 10 min

Ready in: 20 min

Yields: One serving

Ingredients

  • 1 thick slice of jellied beef tongue, or as required
  • 1 egg
  • 6 thin slices of cucumber
  • 3 baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp Branston Pickle or equivalent
  • 3 pickled onions
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded basil leaves to garnish

Instructions

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Jellied beef tongue tureen after being refrigerated overnightJellied beef tongue removed from the tureenSlicing the jellied beef tongueCucumber and baby plum tomatoesSalad and egg are plated with a thick slice of jellied beef tonguePickles are plated either side of the jellied beef tongue
Jellied beef tongue tureen after being refrigerated overnight
Jellied beef tongue tureen after being refrigerated overnight
Jellied beef tongue removed from the tureen
Jellied beef tongue removed from the tureen
Slicing the jellied beef tongue
Slicing the jellied beef tongue
Cucumber and baby plum tomatoes
Cucumber and baby plum tomatoes
Salad and egg are plated with a thick slice of jellied beef tongue
Salad and egg are plated with a thick slice of jellied beef tongue
Pickles are plated either side of the jellied beef tongue
Pickles are plated either side of the jellied beef tongue
  1. Put the egg in to a pot of cold water and bring to a simmer for about eight or nine minutes.
  2. Remove the jellied beef tongue tureen from the fridge. It should be perfectly set.
  3. Lay a chopping board on top of the tureen base and invert. Lift away the base and peel off the clingfilm.
  4. Slice the jellied beef tongue, fairly thickly to eliminate the risk of it breaking.
  5. Take the pot containing the egg to the sink and run cold water in to it for a minute or so.
  6. Crack the eggshell on a hard surface and carefully peel. Cut the egg in half, down through the centre.
  7. Plate the assembled ingredients and season the salad with salt and pepper before scattering over the chopped basil.

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4 comments

Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

I love it, too, Sam. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


SAM ELDER profile image

SAM ELDER 3 years ago from Home

Tongue is great , I love it :) Great hub


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom Author

Hi, Natasha and thank you. At least you have tried tongue - I know a lot of people who flat out refuse to even try it, the idea alone being enough to put them off! :)


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 3 years ago from Hawaii

I have to say tongue isn't my favorite. It's okay in a pie, but sliced...it just feels like tongue to me! It has such a different texture. Great instructions, though.

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