Thursday, December 26, 2013

Buffalo Tongue Stew: Basque Style

I"ve not had a lot of experience eating or cooking tongue. I've cooked beef tongue once before, and sheep tongue, both with mixed results. In both cases, I didn't enjoy them as much as I might have otherwise because my mind colored the experience. I've had and enjoyed a lengua taco and really enjoyed buffalo tongue and pig tongue on special occasions at restaurants when I didn't have to prepare it.  So, I felt some pride as I recently made and absolutely loved a tongue dish. It was buffalo tongue purchased from Whisper Mountain Ranch in Oak Glen. Whisper Mountain recently slaughtered three buffalo (or I guess technically bison) and one tongue was available: it was 1.72 pounds. 

I found a wonderful looking recipe for Beef Tongue Stew Basque Style on the internet and decided to use it. I'm still kind of getting used to the whole tongue structure. The part of the tongue we see is just the tip of the iceberg, there is a whole part embedded in the mouth we don't see. The recipe called for a 3 pound beef tongue, but I really didn't alter it much for the 1.72 pound buffalo tongue. 
The structure of the tongue beyond what we see is quite amazing. 

First, using a saucepan, I covered the tongue with water, then added two cut-up carrots, a quartered yellow onion and 15 peppercorns. This was brought to a boil and then simmered for 2 1/2 hours. 
Tongue in saucepan with onions, carrots and peppercorns.
Second, in another saucepan I made a sauce starting with 1/4 cup of olive oil, two chopped onions (the recipe called for two cups, I used a little more than that), about 15 cloves of garlic lightly chopped (the recipe called for 8 cloves crushed), and three chopped up peppers (two red and a yellow - the recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of diced green pepper). These were sauteed for about 10 minutes, then I added two 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes without the juice, a four ounce can of diced green chiles (the recipe said to puree them, but I didn't) and a little more than four cups of stock (about three vegetable and one plus beef - the recipe called for five cups of beef stock). These were covered and simmered for an hour. Then I uncovered the pan and simmered them for another hour. 
Second saucepan with sauce.
Third, back to the first saucepan, I removed the tongue and saved the broth for another dish, and peeled the outer layer off. Then I cut the tongue into quarter-inch slices crosswise and discarded the first quarter-inch slice from the back. These sections were added to the sauce in the second saucepan and simmered covered for 45 minutes. 
Tongue after simmering.
The cooked tongue before the outer layer is removed.
The outer layer is in a pile in front and the remaining tongue is behind. 
The tongue sliced into quarter-inch slices.
The sliced tongue from another angle.
One slice of tongue in the sauce.
Tongue in the sauce.
This is by-far the best tongue I've had. It was melt-in-your mouth moist, and had the texture and taste of very good steak. This recipe is a real winner and if you can get beyond the mental part of the dish, it is amazingly good. 


  1. That's an impressively big tongue! When we say "It's on the tip of my tongue", we're actually right!

  2. It's easier to eat if you never see the whole tongue before the soup is made. It was quite delicious, and a few days after eating it, I saw a Japanese restaurant that had about ten versions of tongue on the menu. Having tasted your version, I'd like to try the Japanese restaurant.