That time we ate a cow’s head

Last Thursday I get a message from my favorite coffee roaster: “Yo dude…smoked cabeza at keiths box car, this sat 8pm.” Hmm, I’m apprehensive. A whole cow’s head?

But I trust Leo; he’s an adventurous foodie with an incredible ability to pick apart intricate flavors. And I get excited about anything that comes off of Keith’s smoker.

Here’s the scene: A small group of us gather at dusk at Keith’s restaurant, in the middle of downtown’s warehousing district (read: it’s the only place with a light on). Each of us brings a side and something to drink–Keith is taking care of the cabeza.

I can’t remember the full prep, but I know that the tongue was removed and cooked separately–Leo says this step is necessary to preserve the flavors of the different meats. Everything was smoked for 90 minutes, then wrapped in foil and burlap soaked in beer, and slow cooked for 11 hours.

What resulted was incredible. As in, “grunting mid-bite, eyes rolling back” incredible. Or, “curl the toes while licking the fingers” incredible. Or…okay, you get the picture: it was tasty.

The tongue and cheek were my favorite, but we ate everything, including the meat from the scalp, the muscle around the eyes, and yes, even the eyes. So. Tender.

Then, we made tacos:

Also on the plate: fresh tortillas from a local vendor, homemade pilaf, roasted carrots and cauliflower with honey and tarragon, collard greens, and fresh salsa.

Not a bad night.

4 Responses to “That time we ate a cow’s head”

  1. Leo
    May 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    Too many cool points to count.


    All the gasps when pulling out the eyes

    The general feeling of people being exposed to something they have never had, and them loving it.

    The smoke flavor really coming through. Some say there is a gamey flavor to cabeza, the smoke really made the meat a bit more rookie friendly.

    Great experience with foodie people wanting a real treat.

    I grew up enjoying this, it’s awesome to share it with others.

  2. Matt P.
    May 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    This was quite a treat.

    I’ve had lengua before even, but not smoked as this was; tasted completely different, and quite frankly, the best I’ve ever had it. I agree with Leo as well in terms of gaminess w/ the head-meat; it was there, but not overpowering at all, or to the extremity lamb usually contains.

    Great night, and I’m glad it went off successfully. I know Leo and Keith were somewhat apprehensive beforehand, not knowing exactly how this would turn out.

    Safe to say this night proved it should not be the last. Great food, great company, what more can you ask for? I starved myself the entire day in anticipation for an amazing dinner I was sure to come. Judging by my pic, I was also pretty drunk and enjoying myself well before even consuming any of the great food!!

    And props to Tracy and my girlfriend for making no hesitations with that jaw bone well before any of the ‘men’ called dibs. 🙂

    I think the next one should involve another smoked cows head — AND a smoked pigs head.

    I’ll be waiting for the invite.


  3. Keith
    May 5, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    It was an awesome night, so many great people, meeting new people and new friendships blossomed over a meal. Food brings people together even for the obscure.

    Highlights for me, of course the challenge of smoking/cooking something new.

    Collaborating with Leo on just how to pull it off.

    The mind picking that went on between us was great fun.

    Applying traditional techniques (read burlap and foil) to a non traditional smoking.

    A great experience, not one that will be forgotten anytime soon.

  4. Tom D.
    May 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Wow, that looks incredible. Saw the photos on Twitter while I was at a company dinner, looked down at my boring catered meal, and wept.

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