Duck Tongue Tacos as served at Extra Virgin in Kansas City, Missouri, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Season 30.
Recipe courtesy of Extra Virgin

Duck Tongue Tacos

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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 7 hr 5 min (includes cooling and pickling time)
  • Active: 1 hr 5 min
  • Yield: 12 tacos


Taco Filling:

Taco Shells:

Pickled Red Onions:

To Finish:


Special equipment:
a deep-frying thermometer; a taco-shaping fry basket
  1. For the taco filling: Preheat the oven to 280 degrees F.
  2. Combine the hot sauce, salt, achiote paste, garlic and half of the cilantro in a large stainless bowl. Add duck necks and duck tongues to the bowl and mix well to coat.
  3. Pour into a braising pan that will accommodate everything. Cover and bake until the duck neck meat easily pulls away from the bone, about 4 hours. (Alternatively, cook in a crockpot set on 280 degrees F.) Let cool until cool to the touch.
  4. Pick the meat from all the neck bones and set aside in a small container. Next, remove the cartilage bone from each duck tongue by gripping the back of a tongue between the index finger and thumb and pinching the tip of the tongue with the other hand to feel for the bone and pull it out.
  5. Combine pulled duck meat and deboned duck tongues and mix well. Cover and refrigerate.
  6. Stir together scallions and remaining cilantro in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. For the taco shells: Pour several inches canola oil into a large wide pot fitted with a deep-frying thermometer. Heat to 375 degrees F.
  8. Use a taco shaping fry basket to fry the corn tortillas until crisp to the touch and light golden brown. Let drain on paper towels and season with salt.
  9. For the pickled red onions: Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, chile and 1 cup water in a medium nonreactive saucepot and bring to a boil. Place red onion in a bowl. Pour the vinegar solution over the onions and let sit for 1 hour.
  10. To finish: Heat a large cast-iron pan over high heat until smoking hot. Add oil, then spread the duck meat in the hot pan to caramelize. (Be careful, as the sauciness of the duck will induce splattering!) Don't disturb the meat; let it stick to the bottom just a little bit. After a minute or two, scrape the meat off the bottom with a metal spatula and mix well. Add the scallion-cilantro mixture and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove duck meat from pan.
  11. Divide duck filling evenly among the taco shells. Add several slivers of pickled red onion to each taco. Sprinkle each taco generously with queso fresco. Serve without delay.