Lengua Estofada (Braised Beef Tongue)
I’ve loved Lengua Estofada since I was a child. My grandmother and mother make really good ones. In fact, I called my mom last week to ask her how she makes them. I just smiled and nodded while listening, asking myself — What have I gotten into?
Let me explain. When I bought half a tongue, if I hadn’t known how good Lengua Estofada was, I would’ve backed out. I’ve neither cooked it before nor watched how it’s prepared, and coming face to face with this offal made my stomach turn.
It looks harmless and yummy!
I’ve witnessed pig, chicken, and cows killed for food. I eat fish eyes, fish eggs in the fish, and balut (it was one of the food challenges on Fear Factor). I’ve seen my fair share of ‘gross’, for lack of a better word, that’s why I didn’t foresee a squeamish self at the sight of beef tongue…but there you go. Cleaning and cooking it was another story. I won’t get there for the sake of some of you. I did not take step-by-step photos either, for the same reason.
This isn’t for the faint of heart, dear readers, but if you’re feeling adventurous you’ll be rewarded with something so delicious! I sure hope I didn’t deter you from making this beloved Filipino delicacy:
The ingredients really came together. The tomato-based sauce added a boost of flavor to the meats. I cooked some beef meat with it, as you can see above, so that Dan will have something in case he didn’t like the tongue. He’s never had it before and I wasn’t about to force him to do so. [He did try a couple of slices and I’m so proud of him!] Traditionally, this dish has chunks of tomatoes and carrots, but for my version, I fried potato slices and took the carrots out altogether. Dan said the fried potato was perfect in this dish and was a nice contrast of texture with the tender meats.
Here’s the recipe:
Lengua Estofada (Braised Beef Tongue)
- 1.2 lb beef tongue
- 1 beef steak slice, sliced into 1″ strips (optional)
- 1/4 cup white wine
- smallest can of tomato paste
- 4 tsp chopped garlic
- 2 tsp kosher salt, and more to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 portabella mushrooms (or equivalent volume in crimini or white button mushrooms)
- 1 medium sized russet potato
- extra virgin olive oil
- water, about 3 cups
- a few stalks of green onion, for garnish
For ‘cleaning’ tongue:
- 1/4 c vinegar
1. Mix salt and vinegar. Rub tongue with mixture, then rinse.
2. Put tongue in a sauce pan and add water until it is covered. Boil for 5 minutes.
3. Using a serrated knife, scrape the white surface. Make sure to remove all of it.
4. Heat olive oil in medium heat. Brown the tongue.
5. Transfer tongue into a pressure cooker. Add the wine, tomato paste, onions, garlic, peppercorns, 2 tsp salt, and tomato paste. Add about 3 cups of water, enough to cover everything.
6. Lock the pressure cooker and cook under medium-high heat. Once the regulator starts ‘whistling’, reduce heat to medium or medium low, to get a steady sway of the regulator. Start timing it for 30 minutes.
7. Fry your potato slices in olive oil.
8. Saute mushrooms in olive oil, add a little salt and pepper. Set aside mushrooms in pan.
7. After 30 minutes, run cold water over the pressure cooker, still sealed. About 3 minutes. Do not attempt to open it right out of the stove. When it’s safe and loose, unlock the pressure cooker.
8. Take out the tongue and meat, if added. Plate the sliced meat. Slice the tongue diagonally, into 1/2-centimeter thickness. Plate.
9. Add the tomato-based gravy from the pressure cooker to your pan with mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes. Tip: If you have leftover gravy, you can add heavy cream to it to use for grilled steaks.
10. Pour gravy over the meats. Garnish with chopped green onions. Enjoy!