Mole de Almendra con Lengua de Vaca...(Beef Tongue in Almond Sauce...ala Oaxaca)
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Gluten-free, Dairy free, Paleo and just plain slammin'. If you don't like tongue it's because you're squeamish and have never tried it. In Oaxaca it's the most expensive part of the cow. Everywhere it's the most delicious. The texture is completely unique and there is no real substitute. So, if it freaks you out to eat a tongue, skip this recipe and you should probably skip Oaxaca. Oaxaca is not for the squeamish.
I'll try to keep the recipe intros brief. I’m barely going to take time to tell you how much I hate wading 400 yards down a page through inane blah blah blah and 75 pop-ups, only to find a worthless recipe written by some boring cat lady who can’t even cook.
One thing, though, if you are not an experienced cook you should perhaps read our quick post about recipes in general before you start to cook one of mine. It will answer questions that you might have.
Ladies and gentlemen, please assemble your ingredients. I've listed them exactly in the order that you will need them.
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 2-3 hours.
1 whole beef tongue
Full Fat Coconut Milk in a Can or Coconut Cream...also in a can.
Sugar or Sweet Stuff of your choice, Honey (keeps it paleo), Agave Nectar, etc.
Green Olives Stuffed with Pimento, Garlic or whatever you like. I used Jalapeno & Garlic stuffed olives for this go around.
Really Detailed Instructions and Actual Cooking Lesson...
Let’s start with the pot. Make sure it has a lid. Use a pot that will comfortably fit the tongue but isn’t HUGE. This makes a big difference to the amount of liquid that you have to deal with and therefore the amount of seasoning you will need.
Now the tongue. Remove it from it’s package but leave on mother nature’s packaging, a.k.a. the skin. It comes off real easy later and keeps the broth from invading the meat too far. Chuck the tongue in the pot.
Fill the pot with enough water to cover the tongue by an inch or so and toss in some salt. Err on the side of too little salt. You can add more later but you are going to reduce the liquid quite a ways and you don’t want to end up too salty. Flavor from spices and chilis dissipate over cooking time, salt does NOT.
Throw in a few star anise, a few cloves and also a few bay leaves. How many, exactly, depends on how strong they are. Smell them. Taste them. You’ll need to do this a few different times until you have a good frame of reference. If they're good fresh spices around 3-4 or of bay leaf, 4-5 star anise and 6-8 cloves will do. If you bought them in a supermarket who knows how long ago, you'll want to dump in a few more of everything.
Peel and roughly chop about a thumb’s worth (doesn’t matter whose thumb) of ginger and one yellow onion. With onion you can err on the ‘bigger’ side. The onion will stew for a long time and break down. It would be difficult to over-onion this dish with just one onion. Chuck it all in the pot, give 'er the lid and crank 'er on.
That’s it for a while. For about 2-3 hours let it boil over low heat with the lid on until the tongue is as tender as you’d like it. About an hour in, taste your cooking liquid. Don't worry about salt now but the flavors should be very pleasant and a bit stronger than you want the end product to be. You should be able to taste anise, clove and ginger distinctly. If you cannot taste those three things, add more of whoever is missing from the party. If your cooking liquid is SLOWLY disappearing, this is okay. If it begins to not cover the tongue fully, flip the tongue over for a little while near the end. If your cooking liquid is really disappearing, add some more water and know that for next time your heat was too high and/or your lid doesn't fit right.
To test for doneness of the tongue, you can slice some meat off of the base of the tongue where the skin doesn’t cover it. You’ll find that tongue cooks evenly and this meat is indicative of how the rest of the tongue is also cooked. When the tongue is tender, take it out and set it aside until it is cool enough to peel.
Now is when the real ‘cooking’ comes in. Yes, you can.
You’ll probably have about two quarts of broth in the pot. That’s too much for only one tongue and you will use a TON of almond flour to thicken it. So start by straining it. Put about a quart of the strained liquid back in the pot and back on the burner still over low heat. Set the other half aside in case you mess up and thicken the sauce too much in a minute.
Stir in about half of the cream off of the top of the coconut milk can, NONE of the water. If you bought the pure coconut cream use about half of the tiny little can that it usually comes in. Either way, use just enough cream until it’s whitish and a bit creamy looking. This is going to give the sauce some fat and this fat is going to mellow everything out and tie your flavors together.
Now, put the pot back on low/medium heat. With the broth simmering, start stirring in almond flour. It will probably need around 2 cups for 1 quart of liquid. You can dump a cup in at first and stir it for a minute, then use a little at a time. Add almond flour and whisk it, wait 1/2 a minute to see the results, and repeat until it’s almost as thick as you’d like it and a bit grainy, but fairly smooth. This sauce is always a bit grainy in Oaxaca. The sauce will keep thickening for a short while after you stop putting more flour in, so be careful but don’t freak out if it gets a little too thick. That’s what the broth on the side is for, thinning before the next step, if necessary.
Now turn the heat down real low, or even off if you work quickly. Next we’re going to stir in the sugar until it hits your desired level of sweetness. Totally up to you. Then do the same with the salt. The last thing you will do is stir in a bit of vinegar. This is the balancing that they talk about on the cooking shows.
Add about a tablespoon of vinegar at a time, whisking it, and keep tasting it. Before you can actually taste the vinegar itself the whole dish should just light up and taste amazing…This is when it's balanced and you’re about done and you definitely make sure that it's OFF of the heat.
It might need a hair more sugar or salt after the vinegar, then tweak it. The sauce should be ever so slightly sweet, taste like almonds and fragrant spices and not be too salty because you are going to garnish with salty olives. The olives may seem a bit weird, trust me, this taste combination is spectacular.
Now it's time to peel the tongue and slice it. Just peel it like you would an orange and generally any squeamish people will leave your kitchen quickly which is always desirable. Slice the tongue the short way and as thick as you’d like it.
Put some sauce down on the plate and place your slices on it. Pour some more sauce over the meat and strew your olive slices about, enough that you can have one slice of olive for each bite of tongue. Can be served with rice, tortillas, boiled potato or whatever you like, really.
You did it. This is cooking. Adjustment after adjustment until things are just right. This is the way that every great chef makes every single dish. Start with a good base and fine tune it at the end, the secret to a LOT of different dishes.