Sweet and Sour Calves' Tongue: Lingua Agrodolce

Total Time:
2 hr 35 min
20 min
2 hr 15 min

4 servings

  • 2 large calves' tongues, about 3 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound pearl onions, peeled, or cipolline, unpeeled
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch disks
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 oranges, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or reserved cooking liquid)
  • 1 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4 inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt, to taste
  • Place the tongues in a pot just large enough to hold them both, and cover with water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  • Peel the tongues and remove the fatty parts from the lower portion of muscle. Slice the tongues into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.

  • In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring regularly until lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the orange juice, vinegar, chicken stock and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Add the tongue pieces and cook, uncovered, at a very low boil, until the liquid has reduced by 2/3, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and the grated orange zest.

  • In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. Yield: 4 cups

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