Preparing and Cooking a Calf’s Tongue

Jane Grigson describes how to cook and prepare ox tongue in some detail in English Food as well as providing several recipes. Most use pickled ox tongue, but for some it is not specified and I had a calf tongue to use. Many recipes require a cooked, boiled tongue (including the next recipe), but there is no guidance on the preparation of calf tongue. I did a bit of reading and came up with my own method which I am now imparting upon you good people, natch.

The tongue before cooking

Start by soaking the tongue for six hours, changing the water a couple of times. Place it in a closely-filling pan with some cold water to just cover along with an onion studded with two cloves, a chopped carrot, a stick of celery, a bay leaf, a sprig of time, a bay leaf, some crushed peppercorns and a teaspoon of salt. Bring slowly to boil, skimming away any grey foam that may rise. Turn the heat as low as possible, cover, and simmer gently for an hour (I erred on the side caution and cooked it for best part of an hour and a half, but it was definitely over-cooked). Remove the tongue and as soon as it is cool enough to handle, peel the skin away and cut away any gristly bits and blood vessels. The tongue can then be used as required in your recipe.

8 thoughts on “Preparing and Cooking a Calf’s Tongue

  1. Once it was cooked, peeled and trimmed it was just like any other meat though. It semms all my squeamishness has disappeared these days; it didn't really really bother me!


  2. I killed a hen on Wednesday by slitting the big vein in its throat. Unfortunately, I missed first time and cut its food pipe open, and I didn't tie its wings up properly so it splattered blood all over the place. Having said that, it was all fairly straightforward and certainly not distressing.


  3. I don't think that the killing of an eel would be distressing if i did it now. And i'm certainly not put off by any foods now. i'll happily tuck into owt, i recks


  4. I live in the Netherlands and can easily get calf's tongue.After boiling it I skin and slice the tongue, and then over it in a creamy white sauce. I use the water it was boiled in, creme fraiche, and season the sauce with sliced fried white mushrooms, 1/8 teaspoon of paprika and a twitch with the nutmeg mill.In the oven at 160C for 20 minutes. I serve it on a bed of tagliatella and make a chicory salad (sliced across and bitter core removed) with a diced dessert apple (Cox if available) mandarin segments cut in half, a small finely chopped piece of garlic and french dressing. Delicious!


  5. The Muslim butchers in London all do calf's tongues and sheep's tongues. I cook the sheep's tongues quite often but find they are very difficult to skin, even after two and a half hours boiling. So I am really surprised Neil says calf's tongue needs boiling for only one and a half hours. I slice the sheep's tongues down the middle lengthwise. Put some olive oil in a pan, add Maldon sea salt, cayenne pepper and coarse ground black pepper to the oil. Heat it over a medium heat and when it is hot put in the tongues for 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Absolutely delicious. Try it with calf's tongues. I will next week. Hope Neil's timing is good.


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