Mid-Century Menu Finalist #4 – Jellied Tongues

Posted on Aug 11 2010 - 12:26pm by RetroRuth

Well, this is the end of the line. Absolutely, totally rock bottom.  I asked for the Worst Mid-Century Recipes you guys could throw at me, and I got what I wanted.  Four hilarious and horrible offerings from the world of Mid-Century Cooking. And I think it is pretty fitting that we end this contest with the creepiest recipe of the bunch.

Jellied Tongues.  That’s right.  You read that correctly.  Jellied. Tongues.

Thanks to Kelly, aka EarthaKitsch, for submitting this odd and horrifiying recipe.  And by the way, I hate you now, Kelly. Seriously.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. No, seriously.

I must admit that I was trying to find any way, any small reason at all why I couldn’t make this thing.  I put off calling around to look for tongue until the last possible minute. I got Kelly’s recipe submission on June 30th. I didn’t call the butcher shop until this Monday. 

“Hello, this is the meat counter.”

“Yeah, umm…hi.”

“Hi. Can I help you?”

“Yeah….I’m…ahhhh…looking for tongue.”


“Yeah, beef tongue.  Crazy, huh? Well, I am sure you don’t have any, sothanksandI’mjustgonnahangup..”

“Beef tongue?  Oh, yeah. We’ve got it in the freezer. How much to you need?”

“Son of a…”

“What was that?”

“I said, beef. Beef tongue. A whole one. I will pick it up this afternoon.”

So, thanks butchers of Midland for having freaking beef tongue on hand. Thanks a lot.  No weaseling out that way.  And thanks for giving me the unique experience of seeing a beef tongue in a plastic bag, laying on the floor of my car.

When I brought the horrible thing home, I refused to touch it.  So, Tom had to step up and do the prep for the tongue.  Here is the awfulness in photos.  Those of you who are pregnant (I am looking at you, Andrea) might want to avert your eyes now.  I mean it.

Yep, there it is.  One cow tongue.  And brave Tom holding it.

Cramming it in a pot.


Okay, everyone take a deep breath because the next one is a screamer.  Ready…inhale…


Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!  Ahhhh! Ahhh! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Ahhhhh….God. Look at it, just look. I hope you are happy, Kelly.

Damnit, it’s a tongue!!!!

Then Tom peeled it.  Yes, peeled it.  I didn’t take pictures of that part, because I got so nauseated I had to leave the room.  And don’t mock me for having a weak stomach.  I never claimed I was Farmgirl!

Luckily, after Tom peeled it (gag) and sliced it, it looked more like meat.

And there you have it.  Slices of beef tongue.  With only small amounts of screaming on the side. 

So, after a pep-talk phone call from my mom (“It’s just beef. I ate it as a kid. You eat hot dogs, don’t you?  Just don’t think about it and eat it.”) I was ready to actually touch it. Oh, and make the recipe.  That, too.

Oh, and a side note, Kelly.  This recipe didn’t call for olives at all!!! What the heck are they doing in the photo??  Weirdness.

Well, at least this part is fine.  Especially cause there are no hooves in this gelatin.

Beef stock, onions, vinegar, salt and pepper.  I wasn’t supposed to add the salt and pepper till later, but looking at the tongue slices was still kind of freaking me out and I forgot what I was doing for a second.

Oh, another disturbing photo.  This is the “tongue stock”, better known as “the water we boiled the tongue in”. And THAT my friends, went into the gelatin.

This is all getting a little too “Little House on the Prairie” for me.

Eggs in the pan.  Because what would a MCMenu be without hard-boiled eggs, I ask you?

Soooooo, I touched it.  I had to eventually.  I mean, I can’t be a namby-pamby forever.  And you guys were counting on me to get my butt in gear and get that stupid gelatin made. I can’t disappoint you!

More tongue and eggs, and then the gelatin.

By the way, my whole kitchen smelled like cooking tongue.  It was almost enough to bring the gags back.

Whew.  Done. 

Sweet Jesus.

“Are you ready, Babe?”

“Yeah,” he stretched his neck and shook out his shoulders, like he was getting ready to lift something. “I can do this.”


“It’s fine.  Tastes like beef.  But the combination of meat and gelatin still just isn’t right.”

I still balked. “I don’t want to do this.  Don’t make me.”

“Come on, you have to.”

“No!! No, I don’t want to!”

“Just a little bite.  Here, just this little one.”

I took it gingerly from the fork.  Chewed, and ran for the sink.

Tom was laughing. “What do you think?”


It took a whole glass of milk to get the taste out of my mouth.  And yes, I realize the irony of washing down cow tongue with cow’s milk.   But at that point I didn’t care, I just wanted it down.  It was just so…chewy.  I couldn’t do it, especially with the picture of the cooked tongue in my mind.

The Verdict:  Tom claimed it was good.  That the tongue just tasted like beef and it was fine with him.  I just couldn’t get it down enough to even taste it, really.  It was chewy.  And that is all I am going to say.

He ate two whole servings. Two!!!!  I am agog.

So, that is the last finalist for the Mid-Century Menu!!! Whew!!!! Thank god that is over.  Come back next week to see some of the runners-up, and to start the voting on which recipe was the Worst. 

I think I am going to go lie down for awhile.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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30 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Lorie B. August 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    I am laughing so hard I think I am gonna have a stroke….

    That is to stop the massive shuddering. Oh Sweet Margaret!….GNARLY…..EWWWWW…..

    I could have NEVER have had that in my kitchen. Just the look of it would have killed me. Sadly, tongue is considered a delicacy in some places. That and liver.


    NOT that I could have ever gotten a piece of it into my mouth….but I would have been brushing my teeth for hours.


    What were these people thinking?!?!?!?!

  2. Sara in AZ August 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    OH….LORD….HAVE….MERCY!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought Sharon’s recipe was bad last week, but this is just INSANE!!!!! I think you should have made Kelly come over to eat it with you! 🙂

    Where on earth did you ever find this recipe Kelly?

    I love the pic of you drinking the milk Ruth. I can almost picture you drinking it so fast it’s streaming down your face and chin. 🙂 You poor, poor girl!

  3. Inky August 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    blargh. that’s truly disgusting. Whatever did you do to make Eartha so angry 😉 (and yeah, go Tom!)

  4. Andrea August 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Holy crap … I really should have scrolled past those first tongue pictures faster! I guess I can’t say I wasn’t warned, eh??? this recipe HAS to win. That has got to be the most horrifying thing I have EVER seen!!! I have no idea how you choked any of that down!!

  5. Kelly August 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Oh my god. Let me say first that I am sorry. Terribly, terribly sorry. Secondly, let me say that I was at the same time horrified and fascinated with this post. I can’t say that I have ever seen a beef tongue. Well, not outside of the cow at least and….well, it’s horrific!

    I don’t know how you made it through any of this – the picking up the tongue and then having to drive it home…the cooking and my god, Tom who had to do the skinning…blekk! The tongue stock…the smell that I keep imagining in my head. You having to taste it….

    I should be beat with something blunt for ever suggesting it. I can imagine you cursing my name for the entire time.

    I do want to add that it’s a hilariously written and riveting post. And I’m not just trying to make you not hate me. And I want to add that Tom….um, he’ll eat ANYTHING! I don’t know for certain where those green olives went but I think that maybe they had their lawyers get them out of their contract to be in that recipe.

  6. Sara in AZ August 11, 2010 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I have to add….just told Mike about the MCM meal and he asked, “Is there ANYTHING Tom won’t eat?” 🙂

  7. Miss Marwood August 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm - Reply

    LOL, thanks for this hilarious post! You had me in stitches!
    But… I did not find it disgusting. Yes. I know.
    In Bavaria, where I was born, smoked beef tongue in sherry sauce used to be one of my fave meals. I admit I ran screaming the first time I saw it in a pot, but it actually tastes really good, once it’s sliced and served with rice and cranberry jelly. It shouldn’t be chewy at all, maybe yours was a toughie.

    I have also discovered that here in Bavaria (where I am right now on hols) they sell meat jellies in butcher shops. They come with egg, gherkin, ham, etc in it and are lovely, I eat them under the incredulous gaze of my family. Has my brain warped after reading too many Better Homes & Gardens books and reset my tastebuds to 1962, I wonder?

  8. Bethany (Sweet Bee) August 11, 2010 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Oh, my stomach turned just reading this!
    When my mom was in the hospital after having one of us, they brought her lunch in. all she could think of was how hungry she was. She lifted the tray lid, and yep. tongue. She said she’d rather starve. I don’t blame her. I now officially have the willies.

  9. Ingrid August 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    This post brings back memories. We actually used to eat tongue several times a year when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s. I think my Mom cooked it for my Pennsylvania German father. I seem to remember a pressure cooker was involved. We’d slice it and serve it sprinkled with vinegar. I remember liking it but it was part of the culture. If someone were to serve it to me now, I’d have a tough time eating it, let alone preparing it. You have my deepest respect.

  10. Modern Suzie August 12, 2010 at 9:20 am - Reply

    I could eat sliced tongue, but I’m not so sure about that prep work, pretty nasty (peeling!?!yuck!).

    Also, Miss Marwood, you’re not alone, the British eat jellied meats too. My grandpa’s fav is jellied eel, you can buy it at some chippy’s (fast food type places). I haven’t tried it and am not sure I could.

  11. Miss Marwood August 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Hey Modern Suzie, I need to try the jellied meats when I am back in the UK! Good to know I am not alone 🙂 I have had a taste of jellied eels in Brighton but must say that was reeaaaally grim. I could not finish it for the life of me.

    As for the tongue, the peeling is horrid, my mum instructed me over the phone “You know it’s done when you can fork it easily and it peels off without force” . Good God. You really have to put the radio on loud and think of something else when doing this. But once it’s nicely sliced and covered in sauce it’s a delicacy.

  12. Miri August 14, 2010 at 4:38 am - Reply

    LOL! You are incredibly brave!

    DH’s cousin would occasionally invite us to Saturday lunch and she would always serve tongue…for year she thought the kids and I were vegetarians. DH always ate it…UGH!

  13. SusieQT September 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    LOL! My husband is a traditional German butcher and they make tongue loaf with gelatin as a lunch meat. You slice it just like ham. I used to eat it quite a bit. I worked there while I was in college (that’s how we met, duh) and one of my jobs was to peel the tongues after they were boiled. Yes, I had to peel the outer skin off hundreds of pounds of tongue every week. I guess I developed a certain immunity to seeing it after that.

    But that wasn’t the most disgusting use of tongue I’ve ever seen- they also make a lunch meat using pork tongues, blood and cubes of fat in a large sheep’s intestine. It is surprisingly very popular among the clientele, but I’ve never been able to try it myself.

  14. Lauren October 2, 2010 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    This is a riot!! They are SO disgusting! How did anyone actually eat this stuff back then? LOL!

  15. JustDee April 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    You guys make me laugh. OK, so tongue jello doesn’t sound so great. But I make tongue all the time and my kids (now grown) drop everything to come here to eat it. (I almost need to make one tongue per person) It’s a terrific recipe, served with a gingersnap/raisin sauce. The tongue is boiled with onions and whole cloves for around 3 hours and is so tender it practically melts in your mouth. The sauce is served on the side. Serve with mashed potatoes. Beef tongue has a lovely texture and doesn’t have any kind of weird taste. Seriously, it’s OK with me if you don’t like it. That leaves more for those of us who do.

    I also make Lutefisk and lefse. And pies from scratch. I fear that some of these things are going to die with my generation. (I am 60)

  16. Bill S August 8, 2012 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Watch the movie Hobson’s Choice sometime (it’s great!), Charles Laughton’s daughters feed it to him for dinner, he gets real angry because he’s expecting roast pork. The jellied tongue looks pretty scary, it’s about the size of a bread pan, oh, Charles Laughton decides to go get drunk instead of eating it, can you blame him?

  17. denise peace April 8, 2014 at 2:26 am - Reply

    I am not an innards-type eater–never have been (actually—since December–I have given up eating anything with a cute face–but that is another story). But I swear—my ex used to make absolutely scrumptious and authentic Mexican tongue tacos. The texture was a little odd, but the flavor made up for it.

  18. Mark. June 9, 2014 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Growing up I was exposed to tongue at home: Ukrainian Dad who’d lived in Austria for a while fixed it regularly, at some point in the process making slits in it and putting in chunks of raw bacon to add flavor and fat. Not bad as a cold cut. Later I’d have tongue burritos at the first authentic burrito joint I went to regularly, but the tongue was tough and inevitably the burritos would tear open as I ate.

    I’m lazy now: I used to buy and cook tongue a couple times a year (peeling was always a nasty chore), but it’s work. Nowadays the Wal-Mart here stocks tongue but the price has tripled in less than a decade. Not a big enough fan to pay premium prices for offal.

  19. Phoebe July 31, 2014 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    Being Mexican American… I thought this wAs pretty funny. I love beef tongue!! I cook it every once in awhile and serve lengua (tongue in Spanish) in tacos to my friends and family. Steam.. Bake.. Boil.. Whatever. Shred it and place in a flour tortilla with pico de gallo, sour cream, and awesome extra spicy homemade salsa and voila!!! Best.taco.EVER!!! lmao.

  20. Handful January 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    I must say, I like beef tongue. Grandpa was a butcher so it wasn’t a big deal. But why oh WHY did everything have to be in gelatin?? Gross!

    Your Tom is a very good sport.

  21. Chibitika July 26, 2016 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    Oh, my gosh, this post was so funny! I read it out loud to my sister and we were both laughing! Very well written, and the photos and recipe, very well done. You sure are brave, and I hope you know that you have a serious treasure of a husband.

  22. Andrea October 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Oh my gosh! We have a Christmas family tradition of Pressed Ox Tongue, it’s the most delicious cold cut of all. In fact it doesn’t feel like Christmas til we’ve bought the tongue home lol. I’ve been prepping n preparing it since I was a small child and even acquired a gadget thingymebob for the job – a tongue press! It really is lovely although we’ve always kind of rolled it into a coil and pressed it quite tight over night then eat it sliced rather thin 🙂

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