This fall-apart beef tongue is the star of our Persian Rosh Hashanah seder. I'm showing you a simple way to make it at home, with some great ideas for how to use the broth and leftovers.
For the Persian-Jewish Rosh Hashanah New Year celebration, it symbolizes the 'head of the year' as it comes from the head of an animal. It also makes great sandwiches the next day!
Ever had lengua tacos? Maybe you have and didn't know what you were eating! Beef tongue is a tasty and versatile meat cut that is often overlooked, but has roots in many cuisines from Albania to Colombia to Indonesia.
I am sharing all about how to infuse your New Year with Persian flavors and traditions in this Persian Rosh Hashanah seder post I wrote over on Aish.com.
Why this Recipe Works
This recipe is very versatile – you can add your own aromatics to easily customize this recipe. I'm sharing my favorite aromatics including hot peppers, onion, and garlic.
This recipe boils the tongue for 4 hours until extremely tender and it will fall apart a with pulled-pork-like texture, making it easy to shred and delicious to eat.
The leftovers are fantastic. You can enjoy the sliced tongue in sandwiches, shredded in tacos, and make sure to reserve the cooking broth as beef broth. I make a simple beef and vegetable soup with tomato and add in some leftover shredded or cubed meat - it reminds me of the flavors in a Pasta e Fagioli soup.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Beef tongue - They come between 2-2.5 Ibs. If you're using kosher or non-kosher meat, the amount of salt in this recipe will vary and I provide both amounts.
Onion - Use a yellow or white onion in this recipe.
Dried spicy peppers - You can also swap the dried peppers for one fresh serrano pepper, or jalapeno pepper. This addition is optional, and the recipe works fine without them.
Salt and Pepper - You can use whole or ground salt. Similarly, you can use peppercorns or ground pepper.
How to Make this Recipe
Add all the ingredients to a large cooking pot. A dutch oven works great for this. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the tongue by at least one inch.
Bring the water to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer until it is very tender. This should take about 4 hours.
You can test the tenderness by poking it with a fork. The fork should slide back out of the tongue with ease.
Take the tongue out of the broth and peel off the outer membrane before it has cooled completely. It's easier to do this when the tongue is hot, so wait until it's just barely cool enough to handle.
If you're planning on serving the tongue as sandwiches, or for your Rosh Hashanah celebrations, slice it into ¼-1/2-inch pieces.
You can also shred it up at this stage and use it as you would use any shredded meat!
You can find cow tongue at a kosher butcher shop or by placing an order in advance with your local butcher. If non-kosher tongue is not an issue for you, you can also often find it at Latin markets if you ask for 'lengua.' Not many butchers will carry this item in stock.
After you cook it, you need to remove the slightly thick membrane covering the whole beef tongue, as this is tough and not edible.
It is customary to have an item on the table that represents the head of the year from the head of an animal. In Persian Jewish homes, this is often represented by a centerpiece of beef tongue.
Explore more Jewish recipes we serve during Rosh Hashanah like some of these favorites:
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- 2-2.5 Ibs cow tongue
- 1 Onion yellow or white, quartered
- 2 Dried spicy peppers (or 1 fresh serrano, jalapeno, etc) optional
- 1 tablespoon Black peppercorns
- 2 cloves Garlic peeled
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon Sea salt 2-3 if not using kosher beef tongue
- Add ingredients to a large pot.
- Fill the pot with enough water to cover the beef tongue by at least one inch.
- Bring water a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cover the pot and simmer until the beef tongue is very tender. This should take about 4 hours.
- Test the tenderness by poking it with a fork.
- Take beef tongue out of the broth and peel off the outer membrane before it has cooled completely.
- If serving the tongue as is or for sandwiches you can slice into up into ¼-1/2-inch pieces. You can also shred it at this stage.