Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the valley.
This week: Cabeza y Lengua Mixta, or head and tongue tacos from La Salsita
The Ick Factor: Back it on up if you're squeamish about eating a critter's face off, because we're talking cabeza y lengua mixta (mixed head and tongue). This taco combo is about as close to getting the whole beef head as you'll get here in the states, short of roasting your own barbacoa de cabeza (bbq'ed cow head). Often, when you order cabeza tacos, you're getting only a couple beefy cuts like the cheeks (cachetes) and lips (trompas), and you don't really need to worry about eyes (ojos) or brains (sesos) getting scrambled into your tacos--but what you don't know can't hurt you.
Now we'll admit that the cabeza alone is pretty dang tasty, but next time you're out kick it up to the next level by asking for your cabeza mixed with lengua, to truly create a rock-your-face-off delicious taco platter.
(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)
The Offal Choice: Three cabeza y lengua tacos from La Salsita. Tender cuts of shredded beef head mixed with chunks of cheek and tongue topped warm and tender, freshly prepared corn tortillas. We even saw the guy grabbing these tortillas fresh off the press-n-cut machine, so if you're digging the flavor, purchase a dozen 'tillas to-go on your way out.
Tastes Just Like: Good old fashioned steak. Muscle meat is muscle meat, and cabeza y lengua are no exceptions to this rule. If anything, the cabeza benefits from being fattier in certain areas than regular old steak, which makes it even more tender and flavorful.
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If you're feeling cheeky, just order the cabeza y lengua mixta on the sly and try feeding it to someone uninitiated into the wonderful world of offal dining. They'll probably scarf most of it down without even knowing the difference. Just tell them it's carne deshebrada (shredded beef), which is only the tiniest of little white lies because cabeza and lengua are often tasty, tender shredded beef.
Always been a DIY-er? Good luck roasting a cow head whole. We got nothing to help you out with that one. But we can give you one killer recipe for lengua Mexican street tacos.