Beef Tongue with Capers and Tomato Sauce


We have finally found a way of eating quality and decently priced meat in Vancouver: we buy free range offal. A lot of people don’t really cook offal here, as there tend to be some prejudice against them, but if only they knew how delicious a beef tongue is!

I really have a soft spot for beef tongue as, traditionally, for Bretons, it’s a feast dish for weddings and special occasions. My grandmother used to cook some for Christmas and it was far better than turkey.

The thing with offal is that you really have to make sure that they are fresh and come from a healthy animal. We buy our meat at Greens Organic because we are guaranteed it’s free range and the quality is outstanding. We bought an oxtail there for New Year’s day and it was the best I had in a long time.

The butchers at Greens are getting to know me now because, we also buy lamb kidneys and liver there on a regular basis.

Greens’ head butcher and cook is Spanish Basque. To me, it is an endorsement, as in my experience, you can’t fool a Basque on product quality.

The sauce is an adaptation of the traditional French ‘sauce piquante’.

for the tongue broth:

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 onion
  • salt

for the sauce

  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 pepper
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 small tin organic tomatoes or 4 tomatoes if seasonal
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons capers
  • 3 tablespoons tomato concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 cup beef broth (from the tongue)
  • salt, pepper, olive oil

First peel your vegetables for the broth. In a big pot lay the beef tongue, previously rinsed, add your ingredients and cover it all with water. Bring to boil and then cook on low heat for 4 hours.

Hour and a half before the tongue is ready, start preparing the sauce. Chop the onion, garlic finely and sweat them in olive oil for a few minutes. Then add pepper and celery, diced and the carrots cut in half and then sliced, all finely. Sweat for a few more minutes. Pour the tomato tin, add the tomato concentrate, the vinegar, honey, capers, paprika, and add the broth from the tongue (which is still cooking).

Cook the sauce on low heat for an hour, until the carrots are soft. When it’s ready, add salt and pepper and an extra teaspoon of olive oil to enhance the taste.

When the tongue is cooked, peel off the rubbery layer, and then slice. If you are not a beef tongue aficionado, you can quickly fry each side in a lightly oiled pan.

Serve with the sauce and maybe some boiled potatoes, mash or some fresh pasta.

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6 responses to “Beef Tongue with Capers and Tomato Sauce

  1. Thanks for the recipe! We buy our meat from Greens as well because their butcher is committed to sourcing pasture raised, grass-fed animals and it’s very reasonably priced! I’ve introduced liver into my diet, once a week for the past 6 months. I have yet to try tongue. It’s a bit of a mental battle but I’d like to try it!

    • The butchers at Greens are lovely, and I trust their meat more than Whole Foods. I understand the mental battle with tongue. I didn’t see it before because I grew up with all kinds of meat in our kitchen. But a friend mentioned it the other day and I realise how off-putting it can be.
      After stewing the meat for several hours – the longer and slower it’s cooked the more tender it tastes – try to pan fry the slices as it changes the aspect and looks less rough.
      Since I’m here I’m eating lots of grass-fed buffalo here as well, trying to adapt it to different recipes.

      Are offal good for pregnant women?

  2. Hi there!
    I am also the big fan of Greens and offal they have there. But the recipe I know is only Japanese (which, I am) and want to try different way of cooking. We only peel the skin, sliced thin and char grill. I like it but variation is bliss. I will try this one (hope we can share the limited supply of the offal there…) Would you mind to share your wisdom, please? – especially liver and kidneys!

    • Hi Noriko,
      Nice to meet you! I love offal and Greens have the freshest I’ve encountered in years. You can actually order other kinds of offal from them. I’ll ask for chicken liver next. I make them in a salad, the French way. I’ll see also if I can find duck offal as they are really exquisite (I’ve posted recipes of gesiers and duck hearts here – see in the offal section of this blog). You will really impress guests with duck hearts skewers for barbecues this summer. I know it’s not for the squeamish but they are very special.
      Bigger livers like lamb and beef are easy to cook. Fry them in a pan 3-4 minutes each side depending on thickness. They go really go well with pan-fried onions – which you can caramelise if you want to give a bit of a sweet-salty contrast – and French mustard. The side dish would usually be potato mash and my boyfriend who is English likes to cook Brussels sprouts with them.
      I’ll post a chicken liver salad recipe soon!
      Bon appetit!

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