No. 345: Smoked Beef Tongue

My mom and I have a monthly lunch date tradition, and it's the best. Each month we are guaranteed an hour of uninterrupted catch up time that doesn't involve kids, life, chaos, husbands, work...just us.

It's amazing and totally necessary. You have to remove me from my environment to get my full focus. #momlife

Last month I posed a simple question. "What do you want to do for your birthday?" Her response was not as simple..."I'd really like for Kevin to smoke my tongue."

As weird as that phrase was/is, it wasn't out of context. I knew she had a beef tongue sitting in her freezer. It had been an impulse buy from Hickory Nut Gap Farm (the most amazing source for farm to table eats in the region). And the purchase was a nostalgic one.

Purchasing that tongue was a nod to her childhood. Tongue was part of life on a cattle farm. My dad had grown up eating it as well, and had memories of his mom letting him feel how rough it was before she boiled it. Tongue was a cheap cut of meat that fed a family easily in the 50s and 60s.

Full disclosure, I've had tacos de lengua (read: tongue) and sliced tongue sandwiches before and thought they were delicious. I was super intrigued by this whole prospect, and excited!

The Odyssey Begins

So, I said yes to my mother. Then I let Mr. McC in on his task of preparing tongue for my mom's birthday dinner a couple weeks later.

Have I mentioned I love him? I really do.

Luckily, my dad was all-in on helping bring this dream to reality. He and Mr. McC did plenty of research on the preparation steps for tongue (there are a LOT) and divided the work.

Meanwhile, I planned a dinner menu that involved tongue and a delicious backup plan of braised short ribs over creamy Parmesan polenta with roasted Brussels sprouts. You know, in case things got weird...:)

No. 345: Smoked Beef Tongue

We found this random site/recipe and followed along. There are a few alterations we made along the way that I've noted below as well.


Beef tongue (ours was 1.25 pounds)
12 ounces of beer
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 green onions, chopped
2 Bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

For the smoker:
Soaked apple chips
Your favorite bbq rub of choice
Two pieces of thick sliced bacon
1 cup apple juice + 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar + salt/pepper for basting

To make

Soak tongue in salted water for 2 hours in the refrigerator (any classic brine recipe is fine to follow here). Drain and replace with fresh cold water and continue to soak overnight, changing water once more.

Remove from the refrigerator and simmer soaked tongue in water and beer to cover, with the seasonings above for 1-1/2 hours.Remove tongue to cool, then peel skin and trim fat.

(I wish I had a picture of it in this stage. It did NOT look all.)

Note: Dad did all the prep. Thanks, Dad! He reports it was super simple.

Heat your smoker to 250 degrees. Mr. McC used apple wood chips to compliment the basting liquid.

Season the tongue with the rub of your choice (we did a mixture of cayenne, salt/pepper, paprika, brown sugar). Add the two slices of bacon on top.

Tongue on the grill

Turn and baste with the apple juice/apple cider vinegar mixture every 30 minutes, moving the bacon to the topside on each turn. In about 2 hours the internal temperature will be 150 degrees. Remove & cool.

The results

You guys, it was delicious. Everyone (including Mr. McC, our au pair, and the kids) loved the taste of this tongue. Kudos to the hubs for picking a really flavorful rub.

Smoke ring delight

And the smoke ring on those babies!!?? The pics do not do it justice. Fantastic.

The texture was what you'd expect...dense muscle. There's no fat on a tongue (think about it), hence the need for the bacon. It sliced and diced really well, and I honestly would have made tacos with the leftovers IF my mom had let us keep any of them.

Everyone had some combination of tongue and/or short ribs with the polenta and Brussels, and it made a fabulous meal. The birthday girl had a blast, which was the most important thing.

Side note: I can't wait to tell the kids when they are older that they've eaten tongue...and that they loved it:)

Here's to more culinary adventures in 2018!

Happy Birthday, Mom:)

Check out a full index of recipes here
Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at

Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina