Brining Beef Tongue
June 15th, 2009 · 10 Comments · Posted in Recipes
How do you like your tongue?
I happen to like offal and odd cuts of meat and have found a great source in our local dairy. The choices vary. Recently among their on-line selections they had a special on tongue. I had to try it.
As you can see, a whole tongue is one hunk of meat. And how to prepare it? It’s been years since I tasted tongue. I’m not even sure it was in this country. Oddly enough, my daughter and I recently read about a very average American family eating tongue in Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Ramona’s family lives on a budget and tongue was still cheap in the ’80s when Beverly Cleary was writing her Ramona series.
Unfortunately, Cleary doesn’t say how Mrs. Quimby prepared the tongue, only that Ramona and her sister were a little put off by the bumps on the flesh. (Still, imagine kids eating tongue!) For guidance, I grabbed my copy of Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail Eating. There on page 94 was a recipe for “boiled ox tongue,” which Henderson describes as “a very dexterous element in a dish….” Serve it “hot or cold, grilled or fried, in a sandwich with English mustard and tomato, with a caper sauce, or with horseradish or green sauce, and it is particularly good with beetroot….”
Henderson’s recipe calls for 1 salted ox tongue, either from the butcher or brined at home. Since I don’t have a butcher who sells salted tongue, I’m making my own. Fortunately, Henderson gives a fairly simple formula for that as well.
In a heavy pot, mix 200 grams brown sugar, 300 grams kosher salt, 6 juniper berries, 6 cloves, 6 black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves and 2 liters of water. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour over cleaned beef tongue in a non-reactive container. Weigh the tongue down with a ceramic plate so that it is completely submerged in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 7 days.
At this point, the tongue can be simmered–slowly–with carrots, leeks, onions, garlic, pepercorns, celery and thyme for 3 1/2 hours. The skin should peel away easily and you can serve it any number of ways: chilled with a sauce, or grilled, or fried, or in a sandwich. We’re planning a dinner party around ours for next weekend.
Why don’t you check back then and see what we do with our tongue.