Red Chile Style Lengua Tostadas

This red chile style lengua utilizes a red chile inspired sauce and tender beef tongue perfect for piling  into tostadas. The red chile sauce has multiple steps, but the flavor is a thousand times worth it, and everything in itself is pretty simple. The same can be said for the beef tongue, which is boiled for hours in water with some seasoning then cubed when cool and ultimately cooked in the red chile sauce to bring everything together. 

With this much flavor going on, a simple tostada is a great way to serve the red chile style lengua. This version uses some cumin spiced mashed black beans, red cabbage, and plenty of lime, all atop freshly pan-fried tortillas. 

I love making smashed beans instead of refried beans. Not only can you skip the extra oil, but I find them to be easier to make and with a more complex texture. All it takes is some broth or water to keep them from sticking and add moisture plus the seasoning and of course heat. Over time, they start to break down, and with some good smashing, take on a texture between straight up beans and the creamy refried version. It takes less than 10 minutes!

I am so pleased with this dish – the red chile sauce has so much flavor I literally could not stop eating it. Making a whole beef tongue means you get lots-o-meat. Luckily, the red chile lengua freezes amazingly. I ate it all of the course of a couple weeks and it tasted as fresh out of the freezer as it did going in. When reheating, I found the best way was to heat it on the stovetop, covered, with some water to bring the sauce back to life. Beyond tostadas, I ate it in a taco salad form which was equally enjoyable. 

Red Chile Style Lengua Tostadas

Servings: however many you like

Time: 10 minutes


  • fresh corn tortillas, taco size
  • smashed black beans, heated (recipe below)
  • red chile lengua, heated (recipe below)
  • shredded red cabbage
  • lime
  • oil for frying
  • salt


  1. Fry the tortillas by filling a small sauce pan with about a half an inch of oil (I used avocado) and heating over medium-high.
  2. The oil is hot enough when the bottom of a wooden spoon sizzles when inserted into the oil. 
  3. Place a tortilla in the hot oil, pushing down as it bubbles up, for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Flip and fry on the other side for another minute. 
  5. Tortilla should darken a bit in color. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to soak up residual oil. Sprinkle on salt. 
  6. To compile tostadas, first top with smashed black beans, then the red chile lengua, followed by the shredded cabbage. Top with lime juice – this is crucial so do not skip it!

Cooked Beef Tongue


  • one white onion, quartered
  • one head of garlic, top and bottom sliced off
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. new mexico chili powder (or other spicy chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. mexican oregano (or regular)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • one beef tongue, 2-3 lbs., preferably pasture raised and grass-fed


  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 3 hours or until tongue is soft and tender. 
  2. Allow tongue to cool, then use a knife to peel it and cut meat into cubes. 
  3. Reserve 3 cups of strained broth. 

Red Chile Lengua


  • 1 ancho chile
  • 3 guajillo chiles
  • 6 chile de arbol
  • 1 tsp. cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • half a white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • cooking oil
  • reserved tongue broth (recipe above)
  • cooked tongue (recipe above)


  1. Remove stems and seeds from all dried chiles.
  2. All oil to a skilled and pan fry the dried chiles until darkened. 
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of reserved tongue broth to a boil.
  4. Place dried chiles in boiling broth. Immediately remove from heat, cover, and set aside for 20 minutes to allow chiles to soften.
  5. Sautée onion in oil used for frying chiles on medium. After 5 minutes, add garlic and cumin. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes. 
  6. Add soaked and softened chiles to a blender. Add seasoned sautéed onion and garlic. Add tomato paste and salt.
  7. Add 2 cups of reserved tongue broth that was used to soak chiles to blender and blend on high.
  8. Add the chopped cooked tongue to the skillet used to cook the onion. Brown in batches on medium high. You will want to leave the pieces undisturbed for 2-3 minutes at a time to get a good sear. Try to brown on all sides, but do not fret too much about perfection. This browning adds even more flavor. Once all pieces are browned, put all tongue back into the skillet. 
  9. Pour the red chile sauce through a fine mesh strainer directly over the browned tongue. Push on the solids to remove all liquid and flavor. 
  10. Add more broth if you have a lot of meat and feel you need more – this will depend on the size of the tongue. 
  11. Bring to a steady simmer over medium/medium-low and cook until red chile sauce reduces and thickens to desired texture.

Smashed Black Beans

Servings: 1.5 cups

Time: 10 minutes (or less)


  • 2 cups of cooked black beans
  • 1/4 cup of broth (or water)
  • 1 tsp. of cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt (more or less to taste)


  1. Place all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. 
  2. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, covered.
  3. After 5 minutes, remove lid and smash with a wooden spoon or other utensil until desired texture is reached. 

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