Matthew, Joseph, Anthony Cordato – 3/5 of the “The Tongue Twisters”

​Local Brothers Tops in TOP CUT: A BEEF CONTEST

Three local brothers, along with two youth from neighboring counties, made up the first place middle school team in the TOP CUT: A BEEF CONTEST presented by New York Agriculture in the Classroom and the New York Beef Council. This year’s theme for school-age youth was “global street food” and their team name was “The Tongue Twisters”.

Matthew (age 9), Joseph (age 12) and Anthony Cordato (age 11), sons of Jody and Clara Cordato of Hillsdale, and members of the Critter Crew 4-H Club partnered with the two other youth and their advisor, Emma Jenks, Dutchess County 4-H Educator, to participate in this intensive contest. They navigated both hybrid and virtual learning to experience cooking beef and creating a high-level, well-developed marketing plan for their food truck, “Tongue Twisters”.

During the two months of preparation the team members were able to “Hear it from the Pros” in a live video about the careers involved in the beef industry, virtually visited Lehning Farms, cooked along with Chef Cruz Nieves at Rella Rochester, and learned about marketing and branding from two experts. They dove into food safety and honed their cooking skills with prerecorded videos made by the New York Beef Council.

Team members also filmed their own commercial, created their logo, and designed a website to market their product.

This team not only snagged top spot in the middle school division but was also selected as “Most Entrepreneurial”.

During an interview the brothers were asked about any fun aspects of this contest and it seems that because there were so many facets, there was something for everyone. Joseph liked learning to cook with a product new to him while Anthony liked the variety of the activities and Matthew enjoyed creating the logo.

Fun is one thing but, when asked what they learned each had learned something different. While Joseph learned how to run a business, Anthony learned how to cook beef tongue while Matthew learned about value added products.

You can tell that all three brothers have the entrepreneurial spirit of their parents. When asked what they will do with what they learned all three believe they will use the skills they learned to help make their own business successful. Anthony took it one step further and has a goal of opening his own food truck in the future.

Want to try out their award-winning recipe? Here it is!!

Product name: Beef Tongue Tacos

Slogan: It’s Taco-bout good!

Product description: The finest cut of scrumptious beef tongue cooked to perfection, with your choice of our fresh toppings, wrapped in our homemade corn tortillas.

Beef Tongue Tacos (Yield: One 3 lb tongue makes enough meat for about 18-24 tacos)

Ingredients – Beef Tongue

1 (3 -4 pound) beef tongue

2 large onions, peeled

1 head garlic, cloves peeled & crushed

6 to 7 bay leaves

1 Tbs. peppercorns

2 Tbs. Salt


1 large mango, pitted & diced

3 tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded & diced

1 onion, peeled & diced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

1 Tbs. lime juice


3 avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed

1 Tbs. lime juice

1 tomato, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

Other Toppings

Shredded Lettuce

Thin sliced Cabbage

Chopped Tomato (alternative to salsa)


1. Bring stove top up to 225 degrees F.

2. Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full with water. Add the tongue, onions, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the temp on the stove top to 200 degrees F or to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 hours, until the tongue is soft to the touch and tender.

3. Remove the tongue from the water and let cool for a couple of minutes.

4. Using your fingers and/or a sharp small knife, remove the light colored skin like covering from the tongue and discard. There is a rough patch of meat where the tongue attaches to the bottom of the mouth which must be removed. Slice the tongue in 1/4 inch thick slices.

5. Place a cooking surface (soapstone, cast iron, etc) on the stove top and heat to 450 degrees.

6. Heat a little oil on the cooking surface and saute the slices on both sides until they are lightly browned. Remove from the cooking surface. Slice into strips and then crosswise again so that you end up with small cubes.

7. Reheat tortillas by either cooking on the hot griddle surface until pockets of air appear in them, or in the microwave (about 10 sec).

8. Place a large spoonful of meat in the center of a tortilla. Add a spoonful of salsa, guacamole, lettuce, cabbage and any other desired toppings.

Adapted from Simply Recipes ~ beef tacos de lengua from Simply Recipes and Bush Cooking Beef Tacos de Lengua (Beef Tongue Tacos) | Bush Cooking

Corn Tortillas


2 cups masa harina

1 1/2 to 2 cups very warm water


1.Start with putting 2 cups of masa flour in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of very warm water to the masa flour (some brands may call for different amounts of water). Mix in and let sit for 5 minutes or so.

2.Begin working the masa with the palms of your hands to make the dough for several minutes. The dough will be a little gritty at first, but should become more pliable as you knead it. (If at any point through the tortilla making process the dough seems too dry or too wet, add a little more water or masa to the dough.)

3.Pinch off a piece of the masa dough and rub it between your hands to shape it into a ball the size of a plum, or slightly large golf ball. Make about 16-18 balls from the dough.

4.Cut two pieces of plastic from a plastic freezer bag into the shape of the surface of the tortilla press. Open the tortilla press and lay one piece of plastic on the press. Place the masa ball in the center. Place another piece of plastic over the masa ball. Gently close the press and press down, until the dough has spread to a diameter of 4 to 5 inches.

5.Heat a cast iron griddle on high heat. Working one at a time, hold a tortilla in your hand, carefully removing the plastic on each side. Allow the tortilla to rest half on your hand, and half hanging down, and gently lay the tortilla down on to the skillet. Start working on pressing the next tortilla. Cook the tortilla on the hot pan for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. The tortilla should be lightly toasted and little air pockets forming.

6.Keep the tortillas warm and covered. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat.

Adapted from How to Make Corn Tortillas from

Last updated March 8, 2021