A Recipe From the Chef: Mary Sue Milliken's Tacos de Lengua

tacos de lengua
tacos de lengua
Peter Barrett

When we interviewed Mary Sue Milliken, chef-owner with her longtime business partner Susan Feniger of Border Grill, the second of which is now open in the former Ciudad space downtown, she talked about the fun she's been having chasing her food. Mongolian lamb, pigeons in the backyard, etc. It was perhaps because of this that she gave us a recipe involving tongue. Perhaps not. You'd have to ask her. Nonetheless, the lovely tacos de lengua recipe you'll find on the following page can also be found at the new Border Grill downtown, if you're wondering.

Just simmer your tongue until tender (I know, I know, but it is kind of hilarious) in a flavorful broth, then sear it quickly with red onions and chiles and top it with charred chile de arbol salsa, avocado, and a squeeze of lime. Sure, you can go order lengua, at Milliken's restaurant or at any good taquería, but why not make it at home. It's fantastic. And if your friends freak out, so much the better. Give them a small lecture on Fergus Henderson, resist the urge to label them neophytes, and move on.

Tacos de Lengua

From: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, chef-owners of Border Grill.

Serves: 4

2 pounds beef tongue

2 to 3 quarts water

1 small white onion, quartered

1 carrot, peeled and cut into 4 pieces

1 celery rib, cut into 4 pieces

1 guajillo chile, torn into pieces

4 bay leaves

1 whole clove

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, diced

1 to 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

8 4- to 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed*


Chile de arbol salsa or your favorite salsa

Avocado slices

Chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

1. Place tongue in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Add white onion, carrot, celery, guajillo chile, bay leaves, clove, salt, and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until tender. Transfer tongue to a cutting board, cover with a damp towel, and set aside to cool. Strain and reserve the stock for another use. When cool, peel and discard skin of the tongue. Cut meat into 3- by 1/2-inch julienne strips.

2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the red onion until well browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in jalapeno and sauté 2 minutes longer. Then add the tongue, and sauté until lightly browned. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place warm tortillas on a work surface. Line each with sautéed tongue mixture. Serve immediately, topped with salsa, avocado slices, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

4. To warm, dip corn tortillas in water, shaking off excess. Toast, in batches, in a nonstick pan over moderate heat, about 1 minute per side. Wrap in towel to keep warm.

Copyright © 2010, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, www.bordergrill.com

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