How to Cook Pig Tongues

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Most parts of a pig are edible, including the tongue.
Most parts of a pig are edible, including the tongue. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

For most of human history, the cook's attitude toward livestock was a pretty straightforward one: every single bit of it was going to get eaten, one way or another. In the course of the 20th century, as most Americans got further and further away from the farm, that "waste not want not" ethos came to seem old-fashioned. The rise of "foodie culture" in recent years has reversed that trend, as cooks and diners once again take an interest in odd things, like pig's tongues, under the influence of celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Fergus Henderson.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 pig's tongue
  • Pot or saucepan
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic or other seasonings, as desired
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife

Rinse the tongue under cold running water. Place it in a pot and cover it with cold water. Place the pot on a burner over moderately high heat.

Add the bay leaf, onion, salt, pepper, garlic or other seasonings as desired. Bring the water almost to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the tongue to simmer until very tender, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Test with the tip of a sharp knife blade.

Cool the tongue in its cooking liquid for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Remove it from the cooking liquid, which can be discarded. Use the tip of a sharp knife to cut through the tongue's skin, from tip to root.

Peel the skin from the tongue, just as if you were peeling an orange. Feel the root of the tongue with your fingers to locate any areas of tough gristle. Trim these off.

Use the tongue whole, sliced or diced as directed in your favorite recipe, or wrap it carefully and refrigerate or freeze.

Tips & Warnings

  • Any recipe calling for beef tongue or ox tongue can be adapted to pig's tongue by shortening the cooking time. Pig's tongues are smaller and require less cooking to be completely tender.

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