Lengua Ranchera


Lengua Ranchera

This tongue recipe is inspired by a dish from my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in my hometown of san Antonio, Texas. Tongue is a tough muscle since it’s used nearly constantly by the buffalo, but with a little extra attention and cooking time, it can become one of the most tender and flavorful cuts the animal has to offer. This is easily my favorite recipe to prepare for folks who are looking to try something new!



Lengua Ingredients

  • 1 - tongue

  • 1 - bell pepper

  • 1/2 - onion

  • Cilantro

  • Salt to taste

Salsa Ingredients

  • 4 - large Roma tomatoes

  • 1 - jalapeno

  • 2 - tomatillos

  • 1/2 - onion

  • 1/2 - head garlic

Homemade Tortilla Ingredients

  • 3 - cups flour

  • 1 - teaspoon salt
  • 1.25 - teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 - cup warm water
  • 1/4 - cup unsalted butter, melted


Lengua Ranchera Preparation:

  1. Rinse tongue and place in pot with ½ head of garlic, ½ onion, cilantro, and salt.

  2. Cover with water and boil for 3 hours or until fork tender. 

  3. While tongue is boiling, drizzle olive oil and salt over tomatoes, 1 jalapeno, 2 tomatillos, and ½ onion. Place in oven at 400 degrees or until charring appears.

  4. Peel tomatoes and add ½ head of garlic. Blend all vegetables and set aside.

  5. Once tongue is fork tender, remove from the stock and allow to cool. Keep a couple cups of the stock to the side.

  6. Peel the skin off the tongue. If you have never done this before, see the recipe notes for some helpful tips.

  7. In a large, deep pan, sear the peeled tongue on all sides. Let rest after searing and cut into bite sized pieces.

  8. In the same pan, cook ½ onion and bell pepper until translucent.

  9. Add salsa, broth, and tongue back to the pan and cook for 30 minutes or until the salsa has reduced into a thick sauce, the consistency of which will not run out the sides of a taco.

  10. Salt to taste once reduced.

Tortillas Preparation:

  1. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder.

  2. Mix water and butter in with dry ingredients. Knead for a few minutes until fully combined. 
  3. Cover mixture and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  4. Using hands, pinch off a piece of dough slightly larger than a golf ball and roll into a circle-ish shape. 
  5. In a hot cast iron skillet, heat the dough until it starts to brown on each side (roughly 45 seconds). Add a small amount of butter for a delicious crust. 
  6. It might take a couple of tries before you get the timing right, but that's okay! Experiment and have fun! 

    Recipe Notes

    Peeling the Tongue

    If you've never done this, it can be tricky. Cut the skin on the bottom of the tongue down the center line to the tip. Using a paper towel to help with grip, pull the skin from the meat using the points you created. If the skin tears, that's okay! Use a knife to gently cut away the skin, leaving as much meat on the tongue as possible. 

    Making Tortillas

    This is a great activity to do with kids!

    A touch of butter in the pan will help things along; don't use too much, or the tortilla will get super greasy. To eat the tortillas by themselves (a fan-favorite snack in our household), finish with a little bit of butter and salt. If you don't go through all the tortillas in one night, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. 

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