Smoke a Tongue Tonight


Photos by Pam Hoenig

There’s a headline I never in my life thought I’d write. But after tasting a slice of succulent beef tongue I smoked with hickory wood chips this afternoon, how could I not share the love?

Yesterday I was shopping for plum tomatoes to smoke on the grill and decided to swing by the meat counter to see what was out. My local store sources a lot of meat from the Hudson Valley and what they carry can change from day to day.

There sat a diminutive beef tongue, just over 1 1/2 pounds. I’ve been wanting to try this cut but all I’ve seen are huge, and frozen. Just the idea of having to defrost such a monster put me off. But here was this fresh manageable mouth meat—nothing scary about that.

Inside of an hour, I had it home and in a pot of water, along with a cut-up onion, a handful of garlic cloves, and some bay leaves and peppercorns, simmering away. In two hours it was tender.

I let it cool a little, peeled away the skin, then covered and refrigerated it overnight.

This morning I got the grill going with a chimney full of briquettes and when the temperature had dropped down to 275dgF, I added a handful of hickory chips, waited for them to start smoking, then put the tongue on the indirect side, closed the lid, and let the tongue cook until the internal temperature was 135dgF, adding more chips about every 15 minutes for the first hour. Total cooking time was just shy of 2 hours.

After it cooled, I cut into it: beautiful slices that you could pull apart, they were so tender. And the flavor was nicely infused with smoke without overpowering the taste of the tongue. I’m still deciding what to do with it.nSandwiches with horseradish sauce and red onions or chop it up for tacos al lengua? Either way, I can’t go wrong.

– Pam Hoenig

Posted in Behind The Scenes


  1. Jain said...

    This is disgusting.

  2. Pam Hoenig said...

    It certainly does look disgusting, I’ll give you that, and the reason I wasn’t rushing to try my hand at tongue. But the result was amazing, and a real lesson in what head to tail cooking is about and what cooks understood long ago. You don’t waste and you find ways to make every bit of the animal taste good.

  3. Deb Holman said...

    WOW! You inspire me!

  4. It’s great, every year in Johnsonville WI they have a parade the first Sunday after the 4 th of July at Midnight, While the crowd waits trays of cheese and smoked cow tongue are shared along with adult beverages. I now make it at home!

  5. Robert Lee said...

    Thanks for another way to cook one of the most unappreciated parts of beef,to the uninformed it’s disgusting,revolting,or bizarre at best but for those who are true food lovers and not indoctrinated by American food sensibilities of what’s edible or not, it’s rich and one of the most intense beefy pieces of meat we love it at our house have even surprised friends with it,all loved it even those who where initially freaked out by it!keep up the good work

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