The Remix: Tongue Reuben | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

The Remix: Tongue Reuben

Yes, it does look like a tongue.
The Remix: Tongue Reuben

Yes, it looks like a tongue. Amy Kritzer/JW

2-3 pounds of meat

30 min

5 hr

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This is the next installment in our series The Remix, in which we seek to gently rework the more challenging dishes in the Jewish culinary canon. With a little bit of love, we’re convinced we can make any dish delicious, even ones that seem a bit bizarre to the modern palate.

Yes, you read that right. We are cooking beef tongue today. If you haven’t seen one before, brace yourself. First thing you will notice is that it looks like, well, a big ’ole tongue. But once you get past that, tongue is delicious, super-flavorful and affordable. 

Your bubbe will be happy to hear that tongue is having a bit of a moment. Bon Appetit’s restaurant and drinks editor, Andrew Knowlton declared tongue to be a food trend of 2015 along with tacos, gyros and cooking with cannabis. Really. Though Knowlton simply asked his readers to try the super tender meat, not cook it, I’m begging you to take that extra step. Tongue is very tender after a slow-and-low preparation and has an extra meaty flavor: It’s an oft-used muscle, after all.

If you’ve had homemade tongue before, it may have been similar to how my bubbe would prepare it. Simmered in water until tender and then topped with a sweet and tangy sauce, or pickled. Or you may have had a beef tongue sandwich on a trip to Katz’s or Cantor’s, slathered in a spicy mustard. Either way, most people are in the love it or hate it camp.

It’s a muscle with connective tissues that needs to be cooked for a long time on a low temperature or else you are left with a tough tongue. And no one wants that. But cook it too long and it all falls apart. The tongue is also covered in a layer of skin that you need to peel off before noshing. The best way to do this is to simmer the tongue in water and peel off the skin while it’s warm. This is just as gross as it sounds. This part of the proess also gets a bit stinky, but that’s where the grossness ends. I swear.

Instead of traditional tongue preparation, I cooked mine in beer and pastrami-inspired spices. Way easier than making pastrami from scratch (brining it for at least a week, then smoking for hours. I want my Reuben now!)

A fun game to play. Give some tongue to your guests but don’t tell them what it is until then end. Surprise! Try tongue instead of your usual cut in your favorite chili, shredded beef taco or Sloppy Joe recipe. You may never go back.

Amy Kritzer is a food writer and recipe developer in Austin, Texas. She blogs at What Jew Wanna Eat

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For tongue

1 beef tongue (2.5 – 3.5 pounds is ideal)

3 tablespoons coarse salt

3 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons dried coriander

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon dried mustard

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or less

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

An oil with a high smoke point (such as grapeseed)

3 12-ounce beers (I used a lager)

For Russian dressing:

½ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons finely diced white onion

1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Sriracha)

Juice from ½ lemon

½ tablespoon prepared horseradish

½ teaspoon Worcestershire

Salt and pepper to taste

For assembly:

Rye bread



  1. Wash the tongue and clean it well.
  2. Place it in a large pot of water and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered (do not let it boil) for about an hour and a half until the skin turns white-ish. Carefully peel off the skin. It should peel off fairly easily while the tongue is warm. You can use a knife if you need help, but try not to remove too much of the meat. The underside looks a bit weird, but it’s all edible, so only trim it if you want.
  3. While the tongue is simmering, mix together spices through smoked paprika.
  4. Once peeled, coat tongue in oil and then liberally in seasoning, making sure to save some for finishing.
  5. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil and brown tongue on all sides.
  6. Then add beer, and bring to a simmer. Tongue should not be fully covered in liquid.
  7. Cover, and simmer for 3-4 hours until tender but not falling apart. Let tongue rest for 20 minutes, covered loosely in foil. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice thin (1/4 inch), sprinkle with more seasoning and place slices on a rack sprayed with non-stick spray or greased with oil. Bake for 15 minutes or until crispy.
  8. While tongue is baking, mix together dressing ingredients.
  9. To assemble Reuben, spread mayonnaise on two slices of rye bread and toast in a skillet.
  10. Top with slices of tongue, sauerkraut and Russian dressing and serve hot!
  11. Tongue is best right out of the oven, or can be refrigerated for up to 5 days and reheated in the oven.
  • The Remix: Tongue Reuben
    The Remix: Tongue Reuben
  • The Remix: Tongue Reuben
    The Remix: Tongue Reuben
  • The Remix: Tongue Reuben
    The Remix: Tongue Reuben
  • The Remix: Tongue Reuben
    The Remix: Tongue Reuben
  • The Remix: Tongue Reuben
    The Remix: Tongue Reuben
  • The Remix: Tongue Reuben
    The Remix: Tongue Reuben
  • The Remix: Tongue Reuben
    The Remix: Tongue Reuben