Boiled Ox Tongue

You can salt the tongue yourself in a brine; keep the tongue in it for 7 days. Alternatively, get a corned beef tongue from the butcher.

For some reason, a lot of people are squeamish about eating tongue. Like the heart, it’s nothing more than another muscle. Texture-wise, I would say it’s close to brisket or roast beef but a bit smoother. A week in the corning brine gives the tongue the exact same flavor as corned beef, and come March 17th almost everyone and their brother eats corned beef. So don’t fear ox tongue, there is no good reason to.

My local supermarket again surprised me with their wares. Every week, fresh tongue is available in cryovaced bags. I really don’t know if I would have found tongue so readily in California.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but cooking dishes from the cookbook is incredibly cheap, and this instance is no different. The ox tongue was so inexpensive I bought three of them.

After a week in the brine, I rinsed off each tongue and put them in a pot of water with carrots, leeks, celery, onions, a few heads of garlic, some peppercorns and a big bouquet garni. The water was brought up to a boil, and then dropped to a simmer for three hours.

Mr. Henderson gives instructions to peel the tongue right after it is removed from the water, as the rough skin covering the muscle comes off much easier. It was fairly easy, with the skin peeling off like old rubber being pulled off a basketball. I spent about 5 minutes peeling all three tongues.

Now, if I followed the recipe to the letter this would be the end of this weeks update. But at the end of the recipe Mr. Henderson gives nine different suggestions on what to do with the tongue once it was cooked. I’ll show you eight of the ways, with the ninth being next week’s update.

You can serve tongue:

Hot or cold. You can see how much firmer the cold tongue is compared to the heated pieces.

Broiled or fried. The fried tongue was very tasty, with nice crispy edges.

In a sandwich with English mustard and tomato. I managed to find a tiny little bottle of Colman’s mustard in one of the high end supermarkets. I’m a little sad that it isn’t more popular here in the states, as it is quite delicious. It puts normal yellow mustard to shame.

With a caper sauce. Mr. Henderson doesn’t have a caper sauce listed in the book, so I borrowed the pan sauce Alton Brown uses in this pan fried fish recipe.

With Horseradish or Green Sauce. Both of these sauces are listed in the book, so they’ll count toward my total.

Horseradish Sauce – “A very fine thing.

Mr. Henderson asks that the horseradish be finely grated. He also mentions that “this can be quite an emotional experience and may bring tears to your eyes.” It was so emotional, that I had to take three ten minute breaks before I finished. Once I got done crying, I added a splash of lemon juice to keep the horseradish from changing colors.

Crème fraîche was folded into the grated horseradish and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I’ve never had a horseradish sauce like this before. I’m more used to the ultra hot, liquid like sauces. This was much firmer, with a mild heat. Next time I make prime rib I’ll be using this to go with it.

Green Sauce – “Green sauce is a wonderful thing and goes with almost every meat, roast, boiled, or cold; vegetables; and some fish. Its companions know no bounds. The parsleys are essential, the other herbs good additions–rejig the parsley if you’re not including any of them. Never use a food processor to make Green Sauce, as you will end up with a pulp rather than a textural delight.”

As you could tell from the description, this sauce is made primarily from herbs. Mr. Henderson calls for two kinds of parsley, dill, mint and tarragon. Also needed is garlic, capers and anchovies.

I chopped the herbs and the capers, my wife took care of the garlic and anchovies.

The garlic, anchovies, capers and black pepper were mixed into the herbs and then extra virgin olive oil was added until I had the proper consistency. I’ve been sitting here for three minutes trying to figure out how to describe Green Sauce. With the variety of herbs you get this zesty, sweet, savory mish-mash. It’s a very unique experience, and if you’d like to try it for yourself, Mr. Henderson has been kind enough to post the recipe here. He also lists a few recipes for dishes that I have already finished.

Three down, one hundred and twenty two to go.

31 thoughts on “Boiled Ox Tongue

  1. I have to go back and read the previous posts, but I have to say first. This post rocks!! I need to try this recipe from NtoT. How long did the tongues last? Did you serve this all at the same time??

  2. Thank you very much! I still have a whole tongue left over for next week’s update, and decent hunks of the two I did cut into.

    I boiled the tongues last Wednesday, and cooked them on Thursday. It was a marathon there at the end, and we tried desperately to eat as much as we could. Thankfully tongue lends itself well to breakfast. 🙂

  3. I can assure you, tongue tacos were made, but not photographed. Now I need to go pick some more up, I’m getting a jonesing for more!

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  5. I also cooked this dish. Brining the tongue was a nice experience for me. Every evening I was opening the box and checking it (I don’t know why). My wife said I was talking so respectfully about the tongue as if it was a personality living in the refrigerator.

    Tongue is a tasty thing and this recipe makes it tastier. I also used its broth for a soup. The result was incredibly nice.

    The next thing I will try with the tongue will be ‘bollito misto’ out of ‘Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’ a book recommended on You surely know it. I love that book too.

    By the way thank you very much for this site. I enjoy it, I make use of it a lot.

    • Hahahahah, I know that feeling! “Is it done? Is it okay?” I was constantly checking on a hogs head I was brining for a recipe. I had to do it in a 5 gallon paint bucket, so every time I checked, it was a huge process getting it out of the refrigerator.

      I’ve been meaning to pick up the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking for a while now. You have inspired me to actually do it. Thank you, and thank you again for visiting my little website.

  6. A word or two for green sauce. Nowadays I make it very often cos everytime we have steak my daughter (12) asks me to prepare ‘green sauce’. Where I stick to Henderson’s recipe my daughter and my wife like to add a few drops of pomegranate molasses (traditional sour ingredient here in Turkey) reducing capers.

    I guess this delicious sauce of Mr. Henderson has its roots in Italian cooking. He surely is brave using the ingredients. Let say the amount of garlic… Fresh mint or tarragon were also astonishing zests in that sauce don’t you think? Again I quote my wife ‘he has to be brave because he deals with strong tastes like offal.’ Well yes.

    • Wow, that’s a very interesting concept using the pomegranate molasses with green sauce! I actually have some on on hand, and I’ll make sure to try that next time I make it.

      Your wife is spot on about him being brave. You should try Mr. Henderson’s aioli! It’s POWERFUL!

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  8. Hi Ryan,

    I really enjoy reading your blog.
    I Have a question: How long do you use the brine? I mean, is it possible to put a pork belly in after removing the tongues (veal tongue, only for 4 days in the brine)?

    Best wishes from Germany and all the best for your nose- to- tai- experience


  9. Hello John! I’m sorry about the delay replying. I usually keep a brine around for a month, and then make a new batch. I don’t mind putting various bits in the brine together unless you want to brine chicken. To make sure I don’t contaminate other pieces of meat with Salmonella, chicken is brined alone, and I make a new brine when I get done. Veal tongue and pork belly together should be okay.

    Thank you very much for the well wishes, and all the best to you!

  10. I have eaten beef tongue all of my life. There is NO reason to brine it. It is delicious slow cooked (a crock pot is ideal) with celery, onion, bay leaf, peppercorn, and some beef bouillon cubes. After it is cooked, peel it and then slice it as pictured and eat it. I usually make soup with rice or noodles to go with it. But BRINE it? Never.

  11. I saw beef tongue at the local market, and this is precisely the kind of recipe I’m looking for! I tried Mr Henderson’s brined pork belly recipe and it was marvelous. I can’t wait to try this on the weekend!

    Thank you for the post, lovely photos and Mr Henderson’s always delightful quotes.

  12. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m a big fan of Chef Henderson and have tried some of his other recipes as well. It troubles me though that you think tongue would not be readily available in California. Were there no Mexicans where you lived? I’m from Los Angeles and saw tongue in many, many markets.

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  14. I just put a tongue in brine today, and am looking forward to braising it next week! A bistro near me has a great play on beef tongue, which got me really fired up to try this recipe: cold tongue sliced thin and served over toast with caramelized onions and Gorgonzola. Fantastic!

  15. Hi Ryan. I learned from my Mother how to ‘pot’ tongue when I was a wee boy! The tongue was fresh from the butchers. Boiled and peeled as above. While still very hot, it was placed in a heavy round china pot of appropriate size, a saucer was placed on top to nearly completely cover the meat and then an old solid iron placed atop the saucer to compress the meat. It was then left to cool a bit then placed in the fridge to set. You would not know that it was a tongue when removed from the pot!! Deeelicious! Any, left over, was carved very thinly and made into sandwiches. Great friendly site. Regards.

  16. I would recommend, cooking it in a pressure cooker. 50 minutes under pressure the result is same as 3-3.5h of pot boiling.
    Cooked and pealed it last night, came here to look for ideas what to serve with fried tongue for my dinner tonight. Might go for the caper sauce. Thank you.

  17. hi, i just purchased a ox tongue, i would cook this in a pressure cooker for about 1 hour, my dish, will be tongue, cabbage, new irish spuds, if you mention tongue to any of my friends they no i could never eat that, but i cook meals and wait till they finish and then tell them what they have just eaten and they are suprised, my favourite dish would be, rabbit,chicken, diced, courgettes,carrotts, mushrooms, baby spuds whole, green beans, all done in a oven bag, with a tablespoon of water, sealed and cooked for 50 mins, at 150. the juices combine its a lovely dish, anybody who has other recipes ree the above im willing to have a go,

  18. I just cooked an ox tongue that came in brine, and it is unpalateably salty.

    Is there any way this can be remedied, or is it only fit for the bin? :o(

  19. Tim, try soaking it in a pot filled with just enough fresh water to cover for a few hours or even overnight if every bite is like gnawing on a salt lick. Then bring the ox tongue up to temperature in the same pot. That might help a little.

    Let me know how it goes!

  20. I am a R.N., age 62, and I love to cook, I just don’t have much time to cook. Reading about how good beef tongue is, made me want to try it some time. I knew an Egyptian Man who ate tongue. I would not touch it then. I will definitely order it some time. Thanks, Pam

  21. great i know how many hours to leave tongue in the pressure cooker

  22. So glad other people are coming back to offal – the Europeans have such a well-kept secret here. One of my favourite dishes is ox-tongue with madeira sauce – just use madeira instead of stock or water to make a sauce, thickened with a little cornflour – very rich and goes well with rice, egg noodles or potato purée. One small suggestion if I may – start to peel the ox tongues from the base NOT the tip, and the skin will come off easily on just 2 or three large pieces, leaving a much less tattered looking piece of meat to work with.
    And if anyone has never been to St John in London – you don’t know what you’re missing!

  23. Does all tongue come ready brined or is possible to slow cook one in a bourgeonogne (?) sauce?

  24. Thanks for the lovely recipe. Ox tongue is a family favourite for and my family. It always reminds me of home.

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