Pickled Beef Tongue, 3rd time's the charm!

Discussion in 'Nose to Tail' started by snorkelinggirl, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi folks,

    My cooking project this week has been pickling a couple of beef tongues, and turning one of them into tongue pastrami. The pastrami tongue won't be smoked until Sunday, but I thought I'd post about the pickling process and show the finished pics of the uncured tongue.

    I started off making some homemade pickling spice: cracked black pepper, cracked coriander, cracked cinnamon, crumbled bay leaves, dill seeds, caraway seeds, allspice berries, whole cloves, mustard seeds, celery seeds, red pepper flakes.

    I made two containers of brine. One brine recipe is a tried-and-true recipe that I have followed many times for my uncured pickled tongue. The other brine recipe was a new one for me; I followed Bruce Aidells' recipe for the cured pickled beef tongue that I planned to cold smoke. 

    "Tried and True" Recipe: 1/2 gallon cold water, 200 grams sugar, 300 grams kosher salt, 1/4 cup pickling spices

    Bruce Aidells' Recipe: 1/2 gallon cold water, 1/4 lb (114 grams) sugar, 1/2 lb (227 grams) kosher salt, 1/4 cup pickling spices, 1-1/2 Tbsp cure #1

    For both recipes, just mix the water, sugar, salt, and cure (if using) together. Stir for quite a while until everything has dissolved and the brine is clear. Then mix in the pickling spices.

    The "Tried and True" recipe gives a good flavor to the tongue in 4 to 5 days. The Bruce Aidells' recipe specifies 6 days for curing one or two, 2-3 lb tongues.  It should go without saying that you want to wash the tongue well before placing it in the brine; this is actually kind of fun, once you get past the dismembered tongue thing. I mean, if you enjoy the feel of when your cat licks you, you are going to LOVE scrubbing a beef tongue. And if you do it well, you will never experience cleaner fingernails!

    Make sure the tongue is fully submerged in the brine. I weight it down with a couple of plates. The Bruce Aidells' recipe specifies to remove the tongue from the brine after 3 days, stir the brine, then replace the tongue back into the brine. Keep the tongue in the refrigerator while it is brining.

    It is especially fun to do this in a transparent brining container. And to leave the container near the front of your fridge. Invite people over for dinner, then ask them to get you something out of the refrigerator. This is cheap entertainment at its best.

    OK, so my uncured tongue was ready today. At this point just pull the tongue out of the cure, rinse it well, and cover it with cold water in a stock pot. You can add some onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaves to the water if you want (I usually don't). Don't add any additional salt. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 3 1/2 hours.  Pull the tongue out of the water with some tongs, and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes or until you can comfortably handle the tongue.

    This is where it gets fun.  Here is the cooked tongue.

    It is mostly covered in a leathery skin which will easily peel off by hand after it is cooked. Look for a handy hole in the skin, or start along the edges, then just pull gently. It will come away easily.

    Almost every recipe for beef tongue that I have looked at simply says to trim the base of the tongue, then slice the tongue and serve. Um....so, there is a dirty little secret about beef tongue. There are some honkin' big nerves that run inside the tongue. Maybe it's just me, but I'm creeped out by the large nerves. Therefore, I've developed a sort-of technique for slicing a beef tongue that gets rid of the bigger nerves before you slice it.  However, if nerves don't bother you, then just slice and go. You rock.

    Me, I start off by slicing the tongue in half cross-wise about where the tongue bends and the base starts.

    The thinner end of the tongue has no or very small nerves, small enough where even I am not creeped out by them. This part of the tongue can just be sliced.

    Now we deal with the thicker half of the tongue. Start by slicing away the base of the tongue. This is the part of the tongue that doesn't have taste buds, but has glands and other stuff.

    If you look at the surface you just sliced, you can see that the tongue has sort of channels running along it. The bigger nerves run through these channels and also along the cut surface you just made.

    Use a knife to trim inside the 3 channels, but don't cut all the way though the tongue. You might also need to trim a bit more from the top surface that this picture shows, depending on how deep you cut when you removed the base.  This should get rid of the large nerves, leaving you with clean tongue meat.

    You can now slice this section of tongue. The slices will be a bit wonky in shape, but will be nerve free!

    Finally, you can clean the base of the tongue of glands, nerves, and fat to retrieve the remaining meat. This part of the tongue has some long muscle bundles, which are more like brisket in texture than tongue. 

    So there you go!  You now have some lovely slices of pickled beef tongue which are great in sandwiches, tongue tacos, or "as is" with a dab of mustard or horseradish. You can substitute pickled beef tongue in any recipe that calls for corned beef; it is delicious in hash.

    Another way I like to serve it is by making tongue mousse (another Aidells' recipe). It has been a big hit every time I've served it. It uses the pickled beef tongue along with cream cheese, sour cream, shallots, dijon mustard, and sherry.  They are blended in a food processor until smooth, and it is served on sliced baguette or crackers.

    If there is any interest in this post, I'll add to it at the end of the weekend with pictures of the cured and cold-smoked tongue pastrami.

    Thanks for looking!

    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013
  2. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    SG, Thank you for the very informative thread, very precise and detailed.  With access to some tongue, this is on my to do list for sure. 

    Thanks again.

  3. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great post .I have done tongue a few ways .I like it  ,brined,smoked then poached. Havent got a lot of love when I have served it at home but I do like it. Nice with beans & pickles.
  4. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry hit button to soon. I think  your tongue pastrami is closer to how I eat it.Will be checking back for that. Hard to find here now damn yuppies only want things that dont look like an animal part.
  5. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  6. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Mr T,

    Thanks so much looking and for the compliment.  I hope that you do get a chance to make this; beef tongue has a unique texture that is addictive. Brining is not absolutely necessary, but it does really enhance the flavor.

    Have a great night!


    P.S. - I've learned a lot from your smoked cheese posts. I'm thrilled that you liked my post!
  7. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Mick,

    I'm glad you liked my post. I'm excited to see how it comes out after a cold smoke. I know what you mean about love at home....my husband does enjoy eating tongue, but refuses to look at it until it is trimmed and sliced. Even then, he slathers on pickle relish or mustard so that he can't see the taste buds. LOL!

    BTW - Do you apply a coating of oil on your beef tongue before smoking? I read about that somewhere, but not sure how necessary it is to keep the tongue from drying out.

    Have a great night (day)!

  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I have eaten Pickled Tongue but never made it. I learned something new about Butchering to remove the Nerves. Nice post...JJ
  9. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you, Chef.   A compliment from you makes my day!

    Have a great one!

  10. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I dont coat it in oil,just a brine with bits & pieces cure 1# like its bacon then cold smoke it .It comes out a bacon colour then I poach it,then go from there. I posted it before & pig tongues but I lack the computer savvy to express how to get those posts moved over to our whiz bang new nose to tail section. I inject them with brine mix. Its fairly fatty so I dont get the drying out thing  unless the smoker is to hot.I figure if I am poaching anyway I dont need to hot smoke it.

    I like to then slice it & add it to sausage & bean style things or just tongue & those little puy lentils.I also recreated a dish I ate in Italy which was sort of a sweet & sour thing with pickled vegetables. I posted it. It does make a lovely sandwich filling.

    Its funny how the look of things effects people.Doesnt bother me & I figure a whole lot of things get ground up for frankfurts etc.But then I  am the guy that posted pigs ears Sichuan style[​IMG]

    I do like that the look of that mousse[​IMG].I was a sucker for that style of thing whenever I saw it in Europe. 
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Awesome Post!!!

    I haven't had tongue for many years!!! Always liked how tender it was.

    I would remove the big nerves too!!!

    Great Tutorial !!!!

    Have you ever smoked a tongue?

  12. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great post Clarissa! Cash and Carry has had tongue really cheap, so I may pick one up. Interested in seeing how the other one turns out. Nice write up!
  13. awesome...I have two tongues in my freezer I have been meaning to fix...have been leaning towards curing, cold smoking and poaching.  I really like your idea of making a spread for crackers with it...there is a sausage place here in denver (Continental Sausage) that makes blood sausage with tongue in it that I might also give a shot at....but it will all require planning and me not working 60 hours a week (which could be a rant in itself)...also have a beef heart I need to figure out something to do with.  Great post...thanks.
  14. Have a question about your brine...did it penetrate sufficiently without injecting or slicing or putting holes into the tough skin prior to submerging?  Did you inject your curing solution into the tongue?
  15. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Mick, morning......  copy and paste the thread links, you want moved, in a PM to me....   I will forward that info to someone who has the keys to moving stuff around.....  That goes for other members also....  

    Be sure to make it known what forum you want the threads moved to...... "Nose to tail" forum I assume....  

    We are trying to get things moved to the "right" forum, as soon as they are posted now....   Historic forums as time goes on.....   But we do need your help in getting threads to the right forum.....    

    Thanks......  Dave
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2013
  16. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Mick,

    The mousse is pretty dang tasty. Dinner guests that I'm sure would shy away from eating a slice of tongue, had no trouble eating the mousse slathered on toasted baguette slices. The recipe is from Bruce Aidells' "The Great Meat Cookbook". I've been really pleased with this cookbook, and would recommend it.  The recipe calls for 1 1/4 lbs smoked or pickled tongue, 1 cup sour cream, 8 oz cream cheese (containing guar gum), 1 Tbsp dijon mustard, 1/4 cup finely minced shallot, 2 Tbsp dry sherry, S&P. Finely chop the tongue, then blend all ingredients to a smooth puree. Add additional sherry, salt and pepper to taste. Chill until firm. The recipe also calls for 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, but I left this out as I thought it would distract from the texture of the mousse.

  17. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Bear,

    Thank you for the compliments!! 

    Stay tuned!  I have another tongue curing right now. I will cook and peel it Saturday, smoke it on Sunday, let it rest overnight then slice on Monday. I'll post an update to say how it goes.

    Have a great weekend!

  18. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you Case!  

    Hope you have a great weekend!
  19. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sounds Great---I'll be back!!!

  20. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you for the compliment!  I'll be smoking the cured tongue on Sunday and slicing it Monday. I'll let you know about cure penetration after I've sliced it. The recipe I followed didn't say to inject or poke holes in the skin, although I have seen other recipes specify that. I'm also curious to see how the cure penetrates. Hopefully it will be OK! 

    I posted the recipe for the tongue mousse in my reply to Moikel (see above).  It was from Bruce Aidells' "The Great Meat Cookbook".  It was great, I highly recommend the mousse.

    In regards to the heart. I've pasted my favorite recipe for beef heart down below. I personally think that heart is best when marinated and just seared rare or medium rare on the grill. If you overcook it, it develops a flavor a bit like liver.  Heart also makes outstanding jerky, as it is very finely grained. It takes longer to dehydrate as compared to other cuts like sirloin or london broil. My husband always says that he and his buddies fight over the heart jerky when at deer camp; they don't move on to regular jerky until the heart jerky is eaten. If you use the heart for jerky, it doesn't matter which way you slice it, as there isn't any grain in heart muscle to speak of.  To slice for heart jerky, I find it easiest to slice the heart while still mostly frozen. Slice the heart open and lay flat like a book. Trim out the fat from the top of the heart and remove the valves. Then just slice the heart. Once sliced, you can cut away the remaining connective tissue and silverskin from the perimeter of the slices very easily.

    I'll update this post on Monday with the cure penetration results. Check back then!

    Hope you have a great weekend!


    Grilled Marinated Beef Heart with Balsamic Butter Reduction

    Serves 2

    1 pastured beef heart, sliced lengthwise
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced, divided
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
    1 fresh rosemary sprig, leaves removed and minced
    1 fresh thyme sprig, leaves removed and minced
    2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into little pats
    4 cups (lightly packed) mixed salad greens
    1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

    Spread the heart open. Cut the heart into manageable steaks following natural divisions in the heart. Remove the fat from the top of the heart. Remove the valves, connective tissue, and silverskin from the inside of the heart to get down to clean steak meat. Remove the blood vessels and silverskin from the outside of the heart to get down to clean steak meat. To ensure that the steaks are of roughly the same thickness, just use the thicker steaks (from the ventricles) for this recipe. The thinner steaks (from the atria) can be reserved for another use such as grinding for ground beef or slicing thinly and stir-frying with onions and peppers.

    Place the thick heart steaks in a large rectangular casserole dish. Season both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix minced garlic cloves, olive oil, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and thyme in a small bowl. Pour the marinade over the heart steaks and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours, turning occasionally.

    Preheat grill. Remove the steaks from the marinade. Grill for about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. While steaks are grilling, prepare the balsamic butter reduction. When steaks have finished grilling, let them rest while finishing the reduction.

    Simmer 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced by half and reaches a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes. Whisk in butter, one pat at a time, allowing melted butter to be fully incorporated with the balsamic reduction before adding more butter. Reduction should become glossy with the consistency of a thick syrup. Remove from heat and use immediately, as the reduction will thicken as it cools.

    Slice the steaks thinly and serve on a bed of mixed greens with balsamic butter reduction drizzled on top and sprinkled with crumbled gorgonzola cheese.

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