Beef Tongue Tacos “Al Pastor”




In 2005, my in-laws invited my wife and I on a cruise from Seward, AK to Vancouver, BC. While on the cruise, we went on a canoe trip across Mendenhall Lake to see Mendenhall Glacier and the impressive, 377-foot Nugget Falls. On our canoe trip, we were paired up with a family from Mexico. We befriended them and have kept in touch ever since.

Cato and Ceci are the first two on the left in the above picture. Jess and I traveled to Mexico City to visit them and they came to visit us twice when we lived in Colorado. Today is actually Fernanda’s birthday, their youngest daughter. Happy Birthday, Fernanda! She is hidden in the above picture, but you can see her here up on stage.

I’m going to stay on the “taco track,” I promise. Just stick with me for a minute.

It is fair to say that we experienced Mexico from a Paisa’s perspective. We went to the Diego Rivera Museum. Seen here in front of the famous Maguey.

I golfed in a tournament with these guys. Gringo on the left!!

It was on this outing that I was first exposed to tacos al pastor.At the turn (after playing nine holes) there was a lady with a huge planchamaking fresh corn tortillas in which she served tacos al pastor.I instantly fell in love with the lady and the tacos and I ate as many as I could as fast as I could. I asked the guy in the center of the bottom row (above) about what al pastorwas and he told me. Then he said, “Nicolas. Despues de un taco… Un buen tabaco!”as he lit up a cigarette.

My fascination with the tacos led us next to a mercado, where these pictures were taken.

Mole Bar

Tostada Bar

I could go on and on about this trip, this food and these people, but I need to stay on track. I’ll finish by saying that Cato and Ceci, their family and their friends are some of the kindest, funniest and most generous people I’ve ever met. On our final night in Mexico, they took us to El Charco De Las Ranas(The Frog Puddle) for their specialty, you guessed it, tacos al pastor. Here we are that evening.

So, what is al pastor? It means “shepherd style”. It includes a vertical rotisserie with a pineapple spinning above. They shave some of the meat into a tortilla and hack a chunk of pineapple from the top, they catch the pineapple in the taco and serve it up. That’s basically it. Super simple, but delicious.

When I went to New Jersey last fall, my man, Steve Liberati and I found ourselves at a Mexican festival in downtown Philadelphia where I took this picture oftacos al pastor.

Someone saw it on my Facebook page and requested I make video of its preparation. And that, my friends is how this dish was born.

The video first aired a few weeks ago on the CrossFit Journal. If you have not subscribed to The Journal yet, put it on your list of things to do.

Here are a few more pictures from the making of this dish.

And that, my friends, is a round about way of explaining this dish. Don’t fear the cow tongue and give this dish a try. You won’t be disappointed.

I’ll leave you tonight with a quote that I had printed on the back of my Massie’s Fine Cateringbusiness card. It goes like this:

“Quality is never an accident; it is always a result of high intentions, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” – William A. Foster

Cherish quality, guys. Do quality work and seek out those who do. Keep you head up, keep smiling, and “Keep It Paleo!”

Your Pal and Guide to Culinary Fitness,

Paleo Nick

Beef Tongue Tacos “Al Pastor”

Ingredients List:

  • 1 Beef Tongue
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 2 Quarts Cold Water
  • ½ Pineapple, Diced into ¾” cubes
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, julienned
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
  • ½ Bunch Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • Kosher Salt, to taste

Preparation Instructions:

      1. Place beef tongue in a ½ hotel pan with cold water, bay leaves and salt. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 5 ½ hours until tender.
      2. Remove tongue from the oven and allow to cool in braising liquid for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight in the refrigerator.
      3. Remove tongue from braising liquid and peel the skin from the meat. Discard the skin.
      4. Dice the tongue meat into 3/4” cubes and place a large sauté pan over high heat.
      5. Pour olive oil into pan and heat until it runs like water when the pan is tilted back and forth.
      6. Add minced garlic to oil and sauté/stir for 20-30 seconds.
      7. Add diced tongue meat and onions to pan and season with salt and chili powder. Sauté meat and onion mixture to mix well and then allow mixture to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
      8. Add pineapple chunks and cook for 3-5 minutes longer.
      9. eason with salt, lime juice, and half of chopped cilantro, toss a few more times, and then remove from heat and plate.
      10. Top with remaining cilantro and serve as individual tacos or on a large platter as a communal offering. Enjoy with fresh corn tortillas or lettuce wraps.
      11. Bon Appetit!!

      “Keep It Paleo!”

Zone Breakdown

Protein: (10)

The protein in this recipe comes from the tongue. About 25% of the tongue is protein so we will give it about 16oz of protein.(see fat for breakdown of oz). from that, about 1.5 oz equal one block so we will say that we have about 10 blocks from the protein.


From our ½ pineapple, we get probably around 1 cup of cubes. We know that ½ cup equals one block, so we get two blocks from the pineapple.   Additionally we get two blocks form the onion, and about ½ block from the garlic. And finally we get about ½ cup from the juice of the limes which brings our total carb block count to 4.


Our fats are coming from our beef tongue. An average tongue is around 4lbs, or around 64oz. In one oz, there is about 1.5 blocks of fat. About 75% of the tongue is fat, so we will say that 48oz are from the fat. With that, we have about 72 blocks of fat. Keep in mind this is a combination of protein and fats, and should be treated as a delicacy, not a daily protein source.

Balancing Act:  

We have a lot of fat blocks in this recipe, but the tongue is about 75% fat, and 25% protein. You are going to get some protein from this meal, but treat this as a delicacy and not a regular daily protein source.   Enjoy!

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