I had not planned to cook tongue. It all started with my “lust” dinner. The appetizer was set: raw oysters. I had thought it’d be beyond fitting to have a main course of “Rocky Mountain Oysters”. I’m not sure if it’s just the fact that I live in a relatively-small town, or if the main ingredient is honestly that hard to obtain, but after calling four butchers (exclaiming to one, “I need more cow ball!”) who all told me “oysters” were not possible, I had to try something different.

Tongue was still not what I was thinking. I next asked for sweetbreads. This I thought was more reasonable, as at least one restaurant in town features them on their daily menu. At that point, I was also trying to keep with the “lightly fried” motif. Again, no luck. In fact, one of the butchers redirected my call to the bakery (clearly not realizing at ALL why he would be asked a question involving sweetbreads). My “last” resort was heart, but you can guess how that one went.

So there I was, not knowing at all what the hell I was going to cook for a lust-themed entree. I went to my weekly meat sale on campus, and lo-and-behold, my prayers were answered. Right in front of me were two ENORMOUS cow tongues. I had only had tongue once before and that was in a carpaccio style. I didn’t think, given what they looked like, like that was going to be a possibility. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, but I was damned and determined to buy them.

This was one of the biggest cooking challenges I ever have undertaken. Tongue is very tough (literally), and at one point I was indeed scraping off taste buds. This took quite a few hours and quite a bit of effort. Still, the end-result was extremely tasty.



  • 2 cow tongues
  • One large white onion, sliced.
  • Handful of cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper
  • One bottle red wine (never cook with wine you wouldn’t drink)


  1. Take the tongues and rinse them under cold water (to get the blood off). Place in a Dutch oven or similar cooking device with all non-alcoholic ingredients.
  2. Bring to a boil. Then simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Remove the tongue from the pot–place in an ice bath to (temporarily) stop the  cooking process.
  4. Using a knife, remove the outer layer of the tongues, including the taste-buds. Note: THIS STEP WILL TAKE A LOT OF TIME
  5. Remove approximately 1/2-2/3 of the liquid from the Dutch oven.
  6. Place the tongue back in the Dutch oven and top with red wine.
  7. Continue to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the tongue is tender.
  8. To serve: let the tongue rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Optional: take some of the red-wine cooking liquid, place in a sauce pan with butter, flour, and any additional herbs/spices you’d like and reduce.
    Screen shot 2013-04-08 at 8.23.19 AM

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