Chef Sara Moulton Answers Your Cooking Questions

Cook's Notes: To cook pickled beef tongue, cover in water and bring to a boil. If you wish, add 1/4 cup pickling spices. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the tongue is fork tender. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin. Slice thin crosswise and serve warm or chill overnight and use cold in sandwiches or salads. You can also gently warm sliced tongue in a little water in a covered pan or microwave and use for warm tongue sandwiches.

Kosher Style Pickling Spice Makes 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, cracked
2 teaspoon dill seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
8 bay leaves, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 2 to 3 inch pieces cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
Combine all spices until well mixed. Store in a tightly sealed container. Keeps 2 to 3 months.

Basic Wet-Brine
This is the basic brine that I use for bacon, corned beef, pickled tongue, ham, smoked pork loin and Petit Salé Pork. The method for brining is the same. The only variations in each recipe are the addition of spices, herbs and other flavorings and the time each piece of meat spend in the brine. So, consult the individual recipes for details.

1 gallon cold water
1 pound salt (3 cups Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt)
1/2 pound light brown sugar (1 cup)
3 tablespoons Insta-Cure No. 1 (optional if meat is not smoked, required if meat is smoked)

Pour water into a non-reactive container such as a plastic storage tub or stainless steel bowl large enough to hold the water and the meat you wish to cure. Stir in salt, sugar and optional cure. Continue stirring until all the salts and sugar are completely dissolved. Submerge meat in the brine and weight the meat down with a plate so it is completely submerged. Place into the refrigerator for the time recommended in each recipe.

Cook's Notes:
If you prefer a sweeter flavor to your cured meats, increase the sugar in 2-ounce increments each time you cure something and determine what sweetness level you prefer. If the basic cure is too sweet, then reduce the sugar in 2 ounce increments. You may use other sweet ingredients to replace some of the sugar. Some examples are dark brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup, treacle syrup, white sugar, turbinado sugar, honey or malt syrup. Be sure to take notes each time you cure something so you remember where you left off with your sweetness levels, salt levels and curing time. You may also replace some of the water with other liquids such as beer, sweet or hard cider, or red or white wine (take care since wine is acidic) and booze such as rum, bourbon, scotch, brandy, drambuie, or Irish whiskey.

Nancy Shultz: What can you substitute for goat cheese in a recipe if you don't care for goat cheese ?

Sara's Answer:

Nancy,

If the recipes calls for soft goat cheese you can use cream cheese. If the recipe calls for aged goat cheese, ricotta salata (aged ricotta which is crumbly and dry) is a good stand in.

MeloDee Miller: When I bake a pie, no matter what I do, put aluminum foil around it, on it I watch it closely but it always burns or gets really dark before the pie is completely done. Is there any other secret to do so this does not happen.

Sara's Answer:

MeloDee,

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