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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Move Over Brisket, Corned Beef Tongue For St. Patrick’s Day

Traditional corned beef is often made with brisket. Chef Seth Elgar is doing things a little different this St. Patrick's Day -- corned beef tongue.

  • cabbage draped over pan

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    Photo: Seth Elgar

    The terrine mold is draped with overlapping pieces of blanched Savoy cabbage.

  • corned beef tongue

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    Photo: Seth Elgar

    Here's the fully cooked, finished and peeled beef tongue in all its glory.

  • corned beef tongue terrine

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    Photo: Seth Elgar

    Blanched and shocked purple potatoes are sprinkled around the corned tongue. The aspic will be poured in and serve as the cement for the dish.

  • corned beef tongue terrine

    Image 4 of 4

    Photo: Seth Elgar

    The corned beef tongue terrine is served with hot Dijon mustard, parsley and fresh horseradish in a Bibb lettuce leaf.

New Tastes, New Traditions

Lots of cultures throughout history have corned beef as a way to preserve it, but in North America, we most associate it with Irish-American food traditions — and specifically, for St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s usually made with brisket or beef round, but hey, why do it the traditional way when you can mix things up?

That’s what Executive Chef and General Manager at No Coast Reserve Seth Elgar is thinking.

“We have a fresh, local cow tongue in corning spice,” he says. He will transform it into a corned beef tongue and cabbage terrine for a unique St. Patrick’s Day special.

He soaked them in saltwater for a couple hours before submerging them in the brine. The tongues will be in the brine for five days, at which point Elgar will then cook them in a fresh batch of brine before making this terrine:

With this particular preparation, we’re taking our terrine mold and lining it with blanched savory cabbage leaves and filling it with a smoked turkey aspic. Aspic is a homemade stock that has been set with gelatin to be thicker so it holds together. We’ll float in purple potatoes, a little bit of onions, some herbs and then put the finished corned beef (tongue) through the center.

Tongue-Tied?

Is he worried his guests will be turned off by tongue? Not at all, as Elgar has received good feedback for his homemade head cheese.

That, and the preparation process infuses plenty of flavor into the meat. The pickling brine is made up of peppercorns, mustard seed, clove, allspice berries, bay leaves, garlic and some ginger. “These very strong flavors will help overcome some of the strong associations people have with a muscle cut like tongue,” he says.

No Coast Reserve is a raw bar, specializing in fresh seafood, cheeses and charcuterie. Elgar says he has his restaurant’s carbon footprint in mind when he uses organ meats in his dishes.

“I believe from a sustainability standpoint you have to be willing to use the whole animal and we set out to set that example,” he says.

Corned Beef Tongue

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pink salt
  • 10 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
  • 4 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 2 quarts water
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 head celery, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • beef tongue
  • 2 quarts water

Cooking Directions

  1. Soak the tongue in salt water for 2 hours at room temperature.
  2. While it soaks, make the brine. Combine kosher salt, sugar, pink salt, 3 diced garlic cloves and pickling spice into one quart of water. Bring it to a boil, then turn off the burner. Set a 20-minute timer to allow for hot infusion of spices. Then pour the brine into a 6-quart container. Add the remaining one quart of water to the mix to bring it closer to room temperature.
  3. When the brine has cooled to room temperature, add the tongue. Cover with a gallon ziplock bag filled half way up with cold water -- to keep it from floating up out of the brine! Refrigerate this for 4-5 days, rotating it in the brine each day to ensure an even cure.
  4. After several days, remove the tongue from the brine and place it in a 4-5 quart pot with a lid. Dice up carrots, celery, onions and 7 cloves of garlic and add it to the pot. Add water so that the vegetables and tongue are covered, with an additional 2-inches of liquid on top. Add bay leaves and place the heat on high.
  5. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until a paring knife can be inserted into the tongue with no resistance (approximately 4 hours, checking on it every 45 minutes or so).
  6. Once the tongue is cooked through, cool it to room temperature by placing the pot in an ice bath in your kitchen sink. (Cooling the meat in its own liquid helps to keep it moist.)
  7. Once cooled to room temperature, peel the tongue and enjoy!

  • chef seth elgar pickling beef tongue

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    Elgar is offering a playful take on traditional corned beef for St. Patrick's Day. He's pickling beef tongue to turn into a corned beef tongue terrine.

  • chef seth elgar at no coast

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    No Coast Reserve is Bloomington's raw bar. Chef Seth Elgar is the executive chef and general manager.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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