Friday night we picked up some food from Duckfat and, yet again, they were out of the beef tongue on the menu. Luckily enough, I managed to find one from Cold Spring Ranch, North New Portland, ME amongst the frozen organ meat at Whole Foods and have decided to make my own. Sure, it won’t be ready until next Friday, but I’m hoping it is worth both the work and time.
This is the recipe that I’m using:
River Cottage Corned Beef Recipe
5 quarts water
4 to 6 pound piece of beef (brisket or flank)
1 pound demerara or light brown sugar
3 pounds coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon juniper berries
4 bay leaves
A sprig of thyme
3 tablespoons saltpeter (optional)
For the actual cooking:
1 bouquet garni
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1⁄2 garlic bulb
Put all the ingredients for the brine into a large saucepan and stir well over low heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Bring to a boil, allow to bubble for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.
Place your chosen piece of beef in a nonmetallic container, such as a large Tupperware box or a clay crock. Cover the meat completely with the cold brine, weighting it down if necessary with a piece of wood. Leave in a cool place (a place under 40F, such as the refridgerator) for 5 to 10 days. Joints of less than 6 pounds should not be left for more than a week or they will become too pickled.
Before cooking, remove the beef (or tongue) from the brine and soak it in fresh cold water for 24 hours, changing the water, at least once (you could make that 48 hours if it had the full 10-day immersion). Then put it in a pan with the bouquet garni, vegetables, and garlic, cover with fresh water, and bring to a gentle simmer. Poach very gently on top of the stove—or in a very low oven (275ºF) if you prefer. A 6 pound piece of beef will take 21⁄2 to 3 hours. Cook until the meat is completely tender and yielding when pierced with a skewer.
Serve hot corned beef carved into fairly thick slices, with lentils, beans, horseradish mash, or boiled potatoes, and either creamed fresh horseradish or good English mustard.