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

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

  1. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Clarissa, morning....  Well, I pulled the tongue from the freezer and the pack had a hole in it.... Freezer burned on part of it.... Sooooo, I figured the time etc. to pickle was out....   Into the pressure cooker with lots of spices.... If the freezer burn was going to ruin it, I was going to do the least with time etc....  

    Good / bad news.... the tongue is great and I probably should have pickled and smoked it.... 

    I love the Chef's Choice slicer.... beats the Rival slicer hands down....

    Plastic wrapped and ready for the vac-bags....   8 oz packs for sammies... 

  2. that looks great Dave. i'm wanting to up grade my slicer. i'm wanting one that will do whole bacon (or cut in thirds) i looked at yours. i just wish the tray was larger i still my go with the Chefs choice.

    happy smoken.

  3. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dave, that tongue looks great, and I'm sure will make some fantastic sandwiches.

    Dang, those are some pretty slices!  I'll have to check out your Chef's Choice slicer too. I'm jealous!

    Even without pickling or smoking, tongue is still delicious.  Enjoy!

    Have a great day!

  4. looks great...I have one of mine curing as we speak...now if would just stop snowing....but I guess the cold temps are good for cold smoking....
  5. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I thought the flavor profile on my last tongue pastrami was a little bland, so over the last couple of weeks I have cured, cooked, peeled, smoked, and rested another tongue. I followed the same method for making tongue pastrami that I used in my posting above, but with a few minor changes that greatly improved the taste of the finished product. This one is the keeper!! Here are the details!


    8 cups water
    200 grams sugar
    300 grams kosher salt

    1 1/2 Tbsp Insta Cure #1
    1/4 cup pickling spices (or you can just use 2 bay leaves, 6 whole cloves, 6 juniper berries, 1 tsp black peppercorns)

    Combine the water, sugar, salt, and Cure #1. Stir for a while until the mixture is clear. Then add the pickling spices. Immerse the clean tongue, weigh down with a couple of plates, and let cure for 6 days. Remove the tongue, stir the brine, then replace the tongue after 3 days. Keep refrigerated while brining. 

    Cook and peel the tongue as described in the original post. I was a bit concerned about saltiness, so I soaked the tongue in cold water for about 2 hours (with several water changes) before cooking it. I would do it this way next time too, but only because I don't like salty stuff. If you have a normal tolerance of salt, maybe just rinse really well or soak for 1/2 hour.

    While the peeled tongue is still warm, coat it in a generous coating of cracked or ground black pepper and coriander.  I went with basically as much rub as the tongue would accept.  It is important to do this while the tongue is warm, otherwise the coating will fall off. Here is a pic.

    I refrigerated the tongue uncovered overnight in the frig to dry out.  Cold smoked for 6 hours using a mix of apple and cherry dust using 2 lit ends on the AMNS for most of that time, and only 1 lit end for some of it.  Chamber temp was in the mid 70 to mid 90 deg range. I pulled it out of the smoker, put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to cool off, then covered it in saran wrap and let it rest in the frig for 2 days. I sliced it this morning, and Wow!  it was really good.

    Too good to wait until lunchtime to eat, so here are the breakfast shots...

    This 3rd version of the pickled beef tongue is definitely the best, and is now my "go to" tongue pastrami recipe.

    Thanks for checking out this post (again), and hope everybody has a great weekend!

    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One more killer tongue..  I already stole the entire recipe...   Thank you.....  Dave
  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks Awesome Clarissa!
  8. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Clarissa I am curious about the amount of cure to the amount of liquid in your brine. How did you come up with this ratio? I'm only familiar with Pop's brine which has 1 tbsp/gallon,
  9. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great job! Starting another batch right away is the best way to work out a brine recipe. It is not the same as taking notes and then trying in 3 months. Congratulations!

  10. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks Dave!  Your cooked tongue looked great.  Hope you get an opportunity to try the pickled version soon too!

  11. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks so much, Woodcutter!!   Have a great day!

  12. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Case,

    Thanks for checking out my re-post!

    I just used the recommended Cure #1 amount from the Basic Wet Brine recipe in Bruce Aidells' "The Great Meat Cookbook".  His Pickled Beef Tongue recipe calls out for using a 1/2 gallon of his Basic Wet Brine, and that calls for 3 Tbsp Instacure #1 per gallon water. His recipe also specified curing for 6 days; I went a couple of extra days because at 6 days the cure hadn't penetrated evenly where the weight plates were touching the tongue (my fault for being lazy and not stirring the brine halfway through the cure period).

    Well, dang it, Case. Now you've made me curious.  I took the Bruce Aidells' recipe on faith, as he is a reputable source of many meat cookbooks. But now I'm wondering how this compares to Pop's recipe and USDA guidelines.  I would love it if someone could check my work for me here!!


    1 1/2 Tbsp Cure #1 = about 25 grams (assuming 5.5 grams/tsp) = about .055 lbs  (Bruce Aidells' Basic Wet Brine recipe)

    1/2 Tbsp Cure #1 = about .018 lbs  (Pop's Brine recipe)

    1/2 gallon of water = 4.17 lbs

    1 beef tongue = about 3 lbs

    USDA Nitrite in Immersed Products:  (nitrite ppm should be between 125 and 200 ppm)


    Method 1 (used for bigger items like shoulders and bellies that take weeks to reach equilibium):

    nitrite ppm = lb Cure #1 x .0625 x 1,000,000 x % pickup  / lb pickle

    Method 2 (equilibrium curing, generally used for small items with big surface area like pig ears and tails ):  I think Pop's Brine recipe must assume this method (??)

    nitrite ppm = lb Cure #1 x .0625 x 1,000,000 / (green weight meat + weight pickle)

    If I had followed Pop's recipe using 1 Tbsp Cure #1 per gallon water and cured until equilibrium was reached, then my nitrite ppm using Method 2 would have been:

    .018 x .0625 x 1,000,000 / (3 + 4.17) = 156 ppm  (wow! perfect!)

    If equilibrium is reached using Bruce Aidells' recipe, the nitrite ppm using Method 2 would have been:

    .055 x .0625 x 1,000,000 / (3 + 4.17) = 479 ppm (hmm...not so perfect)

    Using Bruce Aidells' recipe where equilbrium is not reached, here are the ppm amounts using Method 1 and assuming some different levels of pickup:

    10%:  .055 x .0625 x 1,000,000 x .1 / 4.17 = 82 ppm

    25%: .055 x .0625 x 1,000,000 x .25 / 4.17 = 206 ppm

    50%: .055 x .0625 x 1,000,000 x .5 / 4.17 = 412 ppm

    Hmmm....I really hope that my actual pickup was around 25%.  I didn't weigh my tongue before and after curing, so I have no idea what my actual % pickup was.

    Now I'm thinking those 2 extra days of cure weren't such a good idea.......excuse me while I go put on some supplemental oxygen.  (insert labored, panicked, breathing sounds)

    So, Case.  I'm glad you asked the question, because it was a good mental exercise. On analysis I don't know where my actual nitrite ppm came in at, although it seems likely it is somewhere between 82 and 479 ppm. Give or take. 

    Assuming you cure long enough to reach equilibrium, looks like Pop's Brine recipe is the safest option. I'm going to have to fiddle to see how much salt and sugar that would require. The problem is that beef tongue is boiled, so a lot of salt and sugar get leached out.

    Next time I use the Bruce Aidells' recipe I'll weigh the tongue before curing and after the specified 6 days of curing, and see where I actually come out on % pickup and nitrite ppm. I'll also be sure to stir the cure and flip the tongue, so that I can stick with the specified 6 days of cure.

    In the meantime, I'm going to EDIT my post above to be consistent with the Bruce Aidells' 6 day cure time, as I didn't appreciate before what a big difference in nitrite ppm the % pickup/cure time would make. A real eye opener.  And here I thought saltiness was the biggest concern.

    THANKS!  For asking the question.  I'm interested to hear feedback.

    Have a great weekend!

  13. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well, Clarissa.....Just HOW did I miss this the first time around?? Is tongue an organ??....lol. If not it should be because it's also on my 'will not eat' list. I must admit though, your thread was like a train wreck....I couldn't turn away. Very interesting & well done tutorial on the subject and I'm sure many here are now intrigued with the prospect of doing one. The price of tongue will probably now shoot up due to increased demand by SMF'ers, pissing off many Hispanics. I do admire your work with such things though.....keep rocking' on......Later, Willie
  14. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    In my book, that's way too much math for the weekend!

    I hope that maybe Pop's or someone else will chime in at some point!
  15. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    From Pop's post:

    You can add any other flavorings you'd like, this is just the basic curing brine. 1 heaping tablespoon of cure is about 1 ounce.  The maximum concentration allowed safely is 3.84 ounces per 1 gallon of brine (24 lbs.per 100 gallons: 16 oz. x 24 = 384 ounces, 1/100th is 3.84 ounces).  You can experiment with different concentrations as long as you keep it between those parameters:


  16. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks, Woodcutter!  That helps enormously.

    3.84 oz/gallon comes out to around 5 - 6 Tbsp Cure #1 per gallon of brine.  So the 3 Tbsp per gallon brine that I used should be well within the safe range. Whew!  Crisis averted!

    Thanks so much!

  17. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Willie,

    Thanks for looking!  Hope you don't have nightmares tonight!  

    Thanks much for the compliments!

  18. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I think 3.83 TBS per gallon. Still in the safe zone!
  19. The approximately 4 ounces of cure #1 per gallon of water is only safe for a short term 10% pump or pick-up, exceeding the 10% or immersing too long would lead to too much nitrite.
    10% pump or 10% pick-up mean that the cured meat should absorb 10% of the brine in relation to its original weight. For immersion or pumped products, the maximum in-going nitrite limit is 200 ppm and that corresponds to adding 4.2 oz (120 grams) of Cure #1 to 1 gallon of water.

    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  20. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yay!  Thanks again!

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