This is going to be a multi-entry series about the process of making a corned beef tongue. I'll be brining my tongue for one week, after that the tongue will be ready for a nice long boil, and a peel. Then all that's left to do is eat. One tongue will be plenty of food for two people, which is the amount I generally cook for. I'm thinking of making some tongue sandwiches, maybe a hash and I will definitely be making Fergus Henderson's tongue and bread.
First the brine. I'm using Fergus Henderson's ratio of 2 cups sugar to 2 1/4 cup salt (I used kosher) dissolved into 2 quarts of water, then I added 12 peppercorns, 12 juniper berries and 5 whole allspice berries. Brought this mixture up to a boil, then poured it into a couple bowls and cups to cool.
Now the tongue. I simply rinsed my beef tongue and put it in a bowl. Now you're not supposed to use metal bowls to brine things, but this is the bowl I've always used so I'm using it again. If I had a non-reactive bowl I would use that instead, but I don't.
This seems like as good a time as any to introduce my partner Ross, who inevitably eats the dishes I make for this site. Ross did not grow up eating many of the foods that I prepare for ENT, but he has a great palate and a sense of adventure when it come to what he'll put in his mouth. Ross is also a great writer and if I can manage it hopefully he'll make a dish and write a piece sometime in the future. Because he didn't grow up eating tongue and headcheese I'll use him as a point of reference for those of you who are curious about these foods, but still a little skeptical.
Back to the tongue.
I'm going to submerge my tongue in this brine for a week in the fridge. Nestled happily between my sweet tofu pudding and Inga my sourdough starter.
This is definitely one of those recipe you have to plan in advance, hopefully it will be worth it. Either way it's kinda cool to have a giant tongue in the fridge.