Chef Jesse Vergen’s Beef Tongue Tacos

This simple and inexpensive beef tongue tacos recipe from Chef Jesse Vergen is so good Gerry has already been asking when we’re going to pick up another tongue to make it again.  That’s a real endorsement in this house.

Chef Jesse Vergen's Beef Tongue Taco

In all honesty, I haven’t eaten beef tongue in a long long time.  I had it poorly prepared once (let’s just leave it at that) and it had turned me off this excellent and meaty piece of beef for a long time.  However, I have committed to making and eating these dishes and so it was time for me to shake off this silly little problem.

I’m very glad I did.  The tacos were great and such a great value! We were able to pick up this tongue for $5 from  Phoenix & Arnold at the Leslieville Market.  Great deal for almost a kilo of hormone and drug-free, grass-fed  beef straight from the farm.

I haven’t inluded a photo of the tongue on it’s own because I’ve had a couple of people mention that it’s off-putting. I guess I understand. So if you want to see it, check here as it goes in the pot and here when it is ready to be peeled.

A couple of quick notes before you get the recipe:

  • This is a pun-free posts.  Yup, there is a lot of tongue in this post but I will avoid punning.  (Feel free to add your best tongue puns into the comments below though.)  For those of you who still giggle when people quip “that’s what she said” and “… in bed” prepare yourself for a giggle-fest with this post where phrases like “eat tongue” “use the tongue” “put the tongue in the taco” occur regularly.
  • Shopping note: Tongue is available, it’s just not always out on display.  Likely because it can be off-putting for some people.  But if you don’t see them, it’s worth asking.  We got our tongue for $5 at the Leslieville Farmer’s Market, but you should be able to get one or at least order one at any butcher.  I have seen them in the meat department in some of the mainstream grocery stores. Although the deli also sometimes carries tongue, it’s not what you want. That tongue is already cooked and is great on pumpernickel for lunch (or so says my mom who picks it up at Loblaws regularly.)
  • Measurement note: while the salt and pepper measure are in ml, it’s fairly easy to use household measures (5ml is 1 tsp; 15ml is 1 Tbsp)
  • Brunoise: Jesse mentions cutting up the onions into a very fine “brunoise”. For those of you not trained in French cuisine (I had to google it to ensure I got it right), a brunoise is a 1-2mm dice or 1/16 inch dice.
  • Peeling: this is really the only fussy part of the recipe and it’s not all that fussy it just might be uncomfortable for some cooks. Just remember to peel back until you get to meat that looks like this.
Shredded Beef Tongue

Jesse Vergen's Beef Tongue Tacos

Chef Jesse Vergen’s Beef Tongue Tacos

Cook Time: 4 hours
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 Beef Tongue
  • 50ml Salt
  • 10ml whole Black Pepper Corns
  • Bottle of Mexican Beer
  • 1/2 an Onion
  • Water to Cover Tongue


  1. Place Tongue in a pot and add other ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 hours (till tender), remove and chill (this can be done a day ahead).
  2. Peel skin off tongue with a paring knife
  3. Then slice with a sharp knife against the grain, and then run your knife back through the meat, giving it a rough chop.


  • it looks like a lot of salt, and it is. But it works.
  • After cooking and peeling the tongue meat looks and feels a lot like canned corned beef.

Chopped Beef Tongue

Corn Tortillas - Taco Shells

Corn Tortillas - Taco Shells

We love Jesse's idea of using beef fat to cook the tortillas, but it ended up causing too much smoke, so we used a dry flat griddle.


  • 500ml Corn Masa
  • 300ml (or so, could be up to 500ml) water
  • 2.5ml baking soda
  • 100ml Rendered beef fat


  1. Work Masa and water together to form a dough.
  2. Knead dough for 5 min… adding masa or water as needed,
  3. Let dough rest for 10 min,
  4. Portion dough into 15 balls,
  5. Using either a tortilla press or a rolling pin, flatten the balls layering them in between parchment paper.
  6. Cook tortillas off on a griddle of a cast iron pan in a little of the beef fat.


  • we didn’t have success cooking the tacos with the beef fat.  In fact, we set off the fire alarm. Twice. Not sure what we did wrong, but we simply couldn’t make it work.  So we went back to our tried and true method of cooking them off on a dry hot griddle.
  • If you do everything right, the tortillas will puff up when you are cooking the second side because of the steam forming between the layers as the tortilla cooks. 

Cooking Tortialls


Hot Sauce on Tongue Taco


  • 1/2 an Onion – cut into a very fine brunoise
  • cilantro pulled apart lightly
  • Valatina hot sauce ( Any Vinegar based hot sauce will work… But this is better)
  • limes
  • salt


  • Reheat chopped Beef tongue on griddle in beef fat
  • add fine diced onion and salt at the very last minute.
  • Place on Taco and squeeze lime over every thing, drizzle with hot sauce and add a healthy dose of fresh cilantro.
  • Serve with cold beer and eat without shoes on.
Chef Jesse Vergen's Beef Tongue Taco

Learn More About Chef Jesse Vergen

Chef Jesse Vergen

Chefs #LoveCDNBeef on - Top Canadian Chefs share their recipes using Canadian Beef

Notethis post is part of my Canadian Beef Brand Ambassador series.  For more information on my relationship with Canada Beef Inc read about my Foodie Adventure: I’m a Canadian Beef Brand Ambassador. #LoveCdnBeefand my disclosure statement

Alexa Clark

Alexa is a digital marketer and author with over 20 years in digital & interactive communications in the food and tech industries. Alexa's CheapEats Restaurant Guides, for both Toronto & Ottawa, were Canadian best sellers. She is a recognized authority on social media and has been named one of Canada's 20 Leading Women in Social Media.

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