Monday, March 14, 2011

Corned Beef and Corned Beef Tongue

On to the Brine!  What a great idea for our third Charcutepalooza challenge!  My husband and I love corned beef so we decided to be really decadent and make both corned beef and corned beef tongue.  Like other bloggers mentioned over at the Charcutepalooza Facebook page, some of us had decidedly gray brisket after it came out of the brine.  Mine was really weird because it also sported a nice pink spot in the middle.

I wasn't too worried about it because several of the bloggers said that it turned properly pink when cooked.  However, I did check with one of my favorite food bloggers, facebook friend, and brilliant food scientist, Bob del Grosso.  Although he was busy and knee-deep in butchering, he did send some information.  So, after giving him an abundance of detail into how I brined the brisket, he suggested that somehow an air pocket had been created in the brining liquid because air can cause the gray.  That's quite possible because I put the brisket in a very large bowl, put a beef tongue on top of that, and then topped it all with an upside down plate.  Certainly the presence of the tongue may have caused the pink spot because that is where it rested.  But I still wasn't sure about the gray coloring.  However, after perusing many of the corned beef Charcutepalooza photos, it seems that this happened to some degree or another with everyone's beef. 

When he had a bit more time, Bob went on to explain that beef turns gray as it oxidizes.  However, if brined "...with nitrite and then cooked, the oxidation will mostly disappear as the meat shrinks and the heat drives off the oxygen."  It was a simplified, scientific explanation that I could understand.  It certainly explains why so many photos had shades of gray coloring after the brine.  And now we all know why it turns properly pink again!  Bob knows so much, shares so much important information about food and cooking, and writes so well that many people are faithful fans of his blog, A Hunger Artist.  Thanks, Bob!

I did brine the brisket with freshly made pickling spice, borrowing the recipe that Ruhlman provides in "the book."  My local health food store always has very fresh, dried spices.  I loved how the flavor of the clove came through.  I never knew corned beef could taste so good!

We ate the corned beef last week in our traditional St. Patrick's Day style with boiled potatoes, cabbage, onion, and carrots.  Then we snacked on it.  And we made sandwiches with it.  And then we took the tongue out of the brine and cooked that for even more corned beef!

My husband loves corned beef so much "too much" peeling or removal of gristle, fat, etc. is not allowed.  I'm not crazy about tongue, but it tasted as delicious as the brisket.  Now he has enough lunch to last awhile. 

I cannot wait to find out what the next challenge will be!

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