Lengua Mechada

 

Beef tongue is a cut of meat that typically intimidates any cook, whether they’re a professional or not. In my part of the country, it’s not often found in stores and when it is, no one really knows what to do with it. I know I was in the same boat when I first learned about this cut of beef myself, even though I enjoy eating it.

Traditionally, beef tongue is cooked for a very long time to allow the meat to break down easily and get tender. And typically, it’s pressure cooked to allow easy cleaning and trimming of the tongue itself and the meat is then usually grilled for tacos or braised and slow-cooked in a stew. Growing up, my mom would often make meals that included cuts of meat that I didn’t know much about and this dish was no exception. That’s what I love most about cooking humble meals and incorporating all kinds of ingredients together; the time and energy spent on the dish itself can definitely be felt in the process. And trust me, the end result is worth the relatively easy effort.

After researching, I found a Puerto Rican classic: lengua mechada. I adapted it based on the knowledge that I’ve acquired from culinary school, with ingredients I typically keep on hand and used the help of my pressure cooker to speed along the process. A dish that normally would’ve taken about 6 hours to braise all day got worked down to a little over two hours. It was amazing. The Pressure cooker did all of the hard work and I honestly spent most of the afternoon reading a book while I waited for the dish to finish cooking. Hands-off cooking saves the day again! The beef was tender enough to eat with a spoon and the sauce worked beautifully with the flavors used.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can definitely slow cook the tongue in a heavy-bottomed and oven-safe pot, but it would take longer than the suggested cooking time, roughly around 5-6 hours (so a pressure cooker will definitely be a good thing to have on hand here). Either way you make it, your home is going to smell wonderful and you’ll have a delicious and hearty meal for your family to enjoy together. Let’s get cooking!

 

 

Recipe

Lengua Mechada

Servings: 6-8
Author: Reina Gascon-Lopez - The Sofrito Project

INGREDIENTS

Beef tongue and sauce

  • 1 Rumba® Beef Tongue
  • 2 quarts water
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 2 small onions, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 head garlic, kept whole and top cut off
  • 1/4 cup simple sofrito*
  • 2 packets sazón con culantro y achiote
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • Adobo all-purpose seasoning, to taste
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • Avocado, sliced for serving
  • Lime slices, for serving

Stuffing

  • 1 very small yuca root trimmed, peeled, and cut into small dice**
  • 1 roasted red pepper slice, small dice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons simple sofrito
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch coarse ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set up the Pressure cooker with the internal rack insert. Place the tongue on the rack. Add the water to just cover the top of the beef tongue. Add the kosher salt, black pepper, bay leaves, onion halves, simple sofrito, and the sazón packet.
  2. Following manufacturer’s instructions for the pressure cooker, cook the beef tongue on high pressure setting for 90 minutes. When the timer goes off, allow the pressure cooker to unlock on the natural release cycle.
  3. Once it’s safe to open the pressure cooker, carefully remove tongue from liquid and set aside to cool. Using a slotted spoon, scoop up and discard the bay leaves, garlic head, and onion. Remove the rack insert. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, turn on the sauté function on the Pressure cooker on a normal temperature setting for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, when the tongue is cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to carefully trim and peel the outside skin from the tongue, revealing the meat inside. Next, trim off any excess inedible tissue or gristle and discard.
  5. Then, carefully cut 1-inch slits into the tongue, going down the center and left and right sides. Following that, take a heaping teaspoon of the stuffing mixture and gently spoon it into the slits all over. Repeat until all of the slits are stuffed. The reaming stuffing ingredients are to be put back into the broth where the yuca is going to act as a natural thickening agent for the sauce.
  6. Next, add the tomato paste and can of diced tomatoes into the simmering broth. Stirring, add the light brown sugar and bouillon cube. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt, black pepper, and Adobo All-Purpose seasoning. Gently place the now-stuffed tongue back into the Pressure cooker with the sauce.
  7. Once the timer goes off, remove the stuffed beef tongue onto a carving board. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice the beef tongue and spoon some of the sauce from the Pressure cooker over the slices. Serve with cooked white rice and sliced avocado.
  8. Buen provecho!

RECIPE NOTES

*Simple Sofrito recipe
**If unable to find fresh yuca, frozen is fine. Thaw out overnight in the refrigerator and follow recipe ingredients from that point on.